We talk to Sandra Matthews, a sheep and beef farmer from Gisborne about her takeaways from attending previous B+LNZ Annual Meetings ahead of the 2021 Annual Meeting & Showcase in Invercargill on 21 March.
Sandra, who sits on Beef + lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Eastern North Island Farmer Council, has attended B+LNZ’s Annual Meetings & Showcases since 2018 in the Gisborne region and then virtually ever since.
Sandra, why do you think it’s important to attend B+LNZ’s Annual Meeting & Showcases?
“It’s a great way to be kept up to date on what B+LNZ’s doing and what they’re working on in the future.
“As farmers, it’s about understanding where our levies are going and seeing and hearing what’s happening in the background which we might not be aware of.
“The other side of it is that it’s a really good opportunity to be face to face with the Board members and B+LNZ staff that are there to talk over some ideas and opinions that you have in regard to the areas of importance to us farmers.”
What’s been the benefit of attending (both physically and virtually) in the past?
“In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, I see attending the Annual Meeting & Showcase as an opportunity for personal development to bring yourself up to date on what’s happening in our industry, which is really important.
“How do we know what’s being done on behalf of us farmers if we don’t actually go along to the Annual Meeting & Showcase?”
How do you find the field trip part of the day?
“That’s what we farmers are all about, actually getting out on farm and getting to see fruitful ideas in action, first-hand.
“I really enjoy the farm visit because it gives people fresh perspectives of what you can do on your farm by celebrating what others have done successfully!
“It’s also a great networking opportunity. The banter on the bus is quite fun and you get to mix with people that you wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to meet. You get to discuss what’s happening on your farm as oppose to their farm and that’s how you get ideas to improve your own farming business.
“In 2018, we went to Tangihanga station in Gisborne which is a big station with a lot of diversification. Attendees were composed of many traditional sheep and beef farmers, along with industry representatives and staff. Tangihanga had several innovative initiatives, it was awesome to see and led to thought-provoking conversations.”
Looking at what’s included in the programme for this year, what are you looking forward to getting an update on most?
“I’m really excited to hear about B+LNZ’s farm plan and what they’re doing in the environmental space.
“I’m also looking forward to getting an update on the global market side of things and in particular Taste Pure Nature because it’s a big priority for B+LNZ, so I’d like to know what the results coming out of that and the research they’re doing, how we’re understanding our consumers better and what B+LNZ’s doing going forward.”
What is your favourite part of the day? Why?
“My favourite part of the day is networking. I really enjoy catching up with the other farmers and B+LNZ staff to solidify the connections I have and create new connections. The Annual Meeting & Showcase is a fantastic opportunity to network with others within the industry, not just the people next door.”
What would you say to farmers who are thinking of coming to the Annual Meeting & Showcase 2021?
“Be there! Find out what B+LNZ’s doing for farmers and get engaged. There’s a lot of stuff going on for farmers and if we’re not engaged, how do we know what’s happening in the background for our benefit? I just want to encourage people to get there if they can.”