Govt initiative to support farmers and farming practices

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Wellington

Three hundred farms will be receiving a helping hand to improve environmental performance and value creation.

The new Extension Service Model initiative pilot programme was launched today in Masterton which aims to help farmers connect with experts on sustainable farming practices.

A new Government initiative aims to help farmers link up with experts and consultants to give advice on better farming methods and practices.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson says “This funding will allow for farmers to share knowledge around better farming practices that will benefit our rivers and land for the next generation.”

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says "We've set a target of 300 in the first year which I think is fairly modest. We hope that this can flow on that farmers see the value of this as they get alongside the guy over the fence, their neighbour this will build into a positive kind of movement."

The $3mil initiative will be rolled out over four years by the Ministry of Primary Industries with 300 farms being targeted each year. The government expects the initiative will help improve water quality, animal welfare, nutrients management and New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions targets.

O’Connor says "What we got to show them is if we all lift our game then we can get more for what we do in the marketplace and give them more back on the farm."

Masterton farmer Nathan Williams says "Make end users more aware of where they are getting their products from and be more sustainable that's what it's all about for us. We're environmentalist at heart really and we're passionate about looking after the country side."

The initiative is part of the Green’s Confidence and Supply Agreement on sustainability objectives to ensure better environmental outcomes.

Davidson says knowledge sharing including traditional kaitiakitanga principles within te Ao Māori could be helpful to both non-Māori and Māori farmers.

“Māori farmers can lead the way for New Zealand because they also have a unique relationship with the land. So this will benefit all New Zealand farmers.”

Government looks to work with experts in MPI and the private sector.