B+LNZ Action Group evaluation to shape new Extension Strategy

// Extension

A comprehensive evaluation of the B+LNZ Action Group approach, done by B+LNZ working with Scarlatti, is helping shape B+LNZ’s new Extension Strategy and future delivery models. View key findings.

action group

Since April 2021, Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has overseen Action Groups, established by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), by adopting the small group learning model for sheep and beef farmers.  

Action Groups are small, usually local, groups of farm businesses who come together to explore a particular challenge for their farming business. The work with a Group Facilitator to journey together learning, innovating and sharing progress as the adapt, adopt and implement things they learn about the challenge topic.  

B+LNZ's annual grant to these groups ended in September 2023, however with about 50 active groups remaining and given the funding investment made into this programme, B+LNZ worked with Scarlatti on a comprehensive evaluation of B+LNZ Action Group approach.   

The comprehensive evaluation included survey responses from around 300 people involved in Action Groups, in-depth interviews, and two face to face workshops where B+LNZ and Scarlatti gathered insights to assess the programme's successes, challenges, and lessons learned. 

Read the full report (PDF, 1.3MB)

The evaluation showed that Action Groups have had a profoundly positive impact on farm businesses by strengthening connections, boosting farmer confidence to make on-farm changes and has a high return on investment for industry profitability.  

When participants were asked about the key components of a successful group, key themes emerged around effective facilitation; clear objectives, focus and purpose; fit-for-purpose learning and delivery methods; and the importance of maintaining group engagement and momentum. 

The evaluation identified four areas where B+LNZ could support Action Groups into the future. They include helping connect groups by developing a central database of experts and resources, cross-sharing the key learning from groups with farmers/groups, increasing support by providing a programme coordinator and/or creating templates/guides and provide facilitator training. 

B+LNZ’s GM Extension, Justine Kidd, says B+LNZ is using this feedback to help shape its new Extension Strategy and future delivery models which is currently being finalised.   

“The evaluation emphasised that the Action Group small group and peer-to-peer approach remains an effective way for many farmers share, learn and ultimately to make changes to farm systems and management. 

“A critical process in this group learning is providing opportunities for farmers to learn from farmers. 

“While B+LNZ isn’t providing kick-start funding to groups (which finished September 2023), we are looking for ways to adopt the best of the Action Group model into our extension programmes,” she says. 

B+LNZ will be working with the B+LNZ Farmer Council through May and June to develop Regional Extension Delivery Plans (REDPs) for delivery from 1st October each year.  

Read the full report