New Zealand farmers need to take a long-term view if they are to meet the freight train of compliance requirements and other changes heading their way.
Recent farming confidence surveys show a decline in confidence from the rural sector, with Federated Farmers’ results revealing regulation and compliance remain top worries for farmers, along with uncertainty around the future of water regulations under the Government.
Bridgit Hawkins, ReGen CEO, says the farming sector is coming under increasing pressure and the confidence survey results echo what she hears on the farm. “Now, more than ever, farmers need to be thinking about the inter-generational future of their farm, and the wider industry, if they are to become more resilient to the changes currently taking place in the sector.
“As well as the day-to-day business of farming farmers are also dealing with complex issues - the environment, health and safety, climate change, good management practices, alternative proteins, and globalisation. This is why we are encouraging farmers to plan ahead, so they are more easily able to adapt to the significant changes heading their way”.
Rex Kane, a Southland farmer, is proactive in planning for the future on his farm. “We’ve over-specified our effluent system to counter any changes and to use it more efficiently to transfer effluent nutrient over a bigger area than what is required for our environmental compliance. Technology can always help people keep up with compliance. As a farmer, I’ve always been keen to have an open dialogue with both our Regional Council, as well as the dairy company’s sustainability representatives, to front-foot change and anything that could affect us in the future”.
Joel Hensman is a Senior Strategic Development Manager for ReGen and spends most of his days on the road, visiting farms and talking to farmers. He believes recent changes at Fonterra could encourage farmers to take a longer-term view of changes needed in the sector.
“A lot of farmers are taking an interest in Miles Hurrell, the new interim CEO. Fonterra sets the tone for the industry, and hopefully, the change will encourage more people to revisit the strategic direction for their farm business’.
“Farmers are playing a bit of a guessing game on the Government’s plans for their sector, especially around irrigation. They need more support to stand tall. Agriculture is the backbone of our economy, and we can’t ignore the significant impact it has on the financial fortunes of New Zealand. The compliance freight train is coming, now’s the time to actively plan for the future, and meet the changes head-on,” says Bridgit Hawkins.