Sustainable Direction for Sheep and Beef Farmers

(Published on 28th February 2017)

Sixty-five sheep and beef sector farmers from around the country met in Wellington recently to discuss the initiatives underway to improve environmental performance. NZ Landcare Trust was there to hear the latest news and to add support to the important catchment scale work.

“Those at the conference were some of New Zealand’s most environmentally pro-active farmers and they represent the momentum gathering with farmers across the country,” Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ Ltd) Chief Executive Sam McIvor said.

This is the third environment conference B+LNZ has run and it’s a response to farmers looking for more help to support good environmental management on their farms. This has seen the organisation increase its capability with seven full-time staff supporting farmers, including advocacy on issues relating to environmental management.

McIvor told the conference farmers understand that their management of the environment is a key ingredient of their business and they know they are custodians of the land.

“They also accept there are environmental challenges and finding solutions is as important for the sector as it is for rural communities, the wider New Zealand population and our trading partners and consumers."

Since 1990, there has been a remarkable journey of environmental progress.  Sheep and beef farmers have driven major efficiency gains – increasing lambing percentages by 25 percent and the lamb weight weaned by ewes by 93 percent.  What’s more impressive is that farmers have achieved this with 23 percent less land.

“We estimate that about one million hectares (ha) of steeper country is either retired or planted in trees while a further million ha of high quality land has been converted to dairy.  With this efficiency drive it’s estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from the sheep and beef sector has decreased by 19 percent.”

McIvor said he believed while sheep and beef farmers are focused on being profitable and confident about the future, they are also focused on meeting their responsibilities to the land and community.

NZ Landcare Trust works closely with B+LNZ on practical initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of sustainable farming practices. In particular working in partnership on various catchment projects, and encouraging farmers to attend B+LNZ's Land Environment Plan (LEP) workshops.



(Story based on B+LNZ media release)

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