Wellington 24th March 2020,
A FarmIQ survey shows farmers across New Zealand are investing to reduce their environmental footprint, but feel hamstrung by a lack of clarity around environmental obligations and absence of quality tools and resources.
The survey involved over 650 farmers across all sectors and regions. It highlights the urgent need for clear leadership from central government, and the lack of appropriate tools and pathways that enable farmers to drive positive environmental outcomes.
The study shows that a good proportion of farmers are employing Good Management Practice (GMP), with 45% already having a farm environment plan (FEP) of some description.
Of the 45%, more than half were created voluntarily, without any push from processors or councils.
Of the 55% that don’t yet have an FEP, half expect to get started in the coming year.
“We found this both encouraging and disconcerting all at the same time”, said Alison Worth, FarmIQ’s Environment lead.
“It demonstrates farmers are motivated and engaged, they want to do the right thing but feel stuck-in-the-mire of policy and regulation, understandably reluctant to invest for fear of getting it wrong."
“The main concern we identified was lack of certainty around what’s happening in the regulatory space, which has negated much of the good work done by industry groups such as Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ and land management teams at regional councils.”
Significant barriers to contributing positively to the FEP conversation exist, and genuine support from central government is needed to change the negative perception that farmers aren’t interested in sustainability or protecting the environment.
Regional differences were also highlighted in the study.
Farmers in Waikato, Southland and Canterbury are showing the highest levels of engagement.
From a sector perspective, dairy farmers lead livestock farmers 62% to 42% respectively, which was expected given the level and quality of industry support given to the dairy industry.
“Overall, it’s absolutely clear that New Zealand farmers want to, and are farm environment planning, but in order to do so they have to have the right tools.
“There must be stronger leadership from central government to build confidence and give assurance that they will be supported throughout their FEP journey.”
Full results of the study are available from FarmIQ.