Fieldays looks at challenge

Farmers will address the critical challenges facing the rural community at this year’s National Agricultural Fieldays.

Fieldays has partnered with Federated Farmers to launch a Rural Advocacy Hub at the southern hemisphere’s biggest agricultural event, and they’ve invited likeminded organisations to join them.

Fieldays general manager Peter Nation stops for a selfie with mayors Jacqui Church (Waikato), Susan O’Regan (Waipa) and Paula Southgate (Hamilton), with Waikato Regional chair Pamela Storey third right. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation approached Federated Farmers national president Wayne Langford after reading an article where Langford talked about getting everyone in the same team pointing forward for the good of the industry.

“It’ll be everything,” Nation said, when asked what the likely topics will be. “There are so many things going on. Free trade agreements, people love them or hate them, they’re going to talk about interest rates, banks, climate change, Three Waters, red tape, and on and on.

“A lot of them are farming on their own and they can come into a place like that …and verify some facts and talk to some people. “

Nation is expecting Government ministers, chief executives, board chairs, and industry leaders to join the conversation.

“There’ll be some debate. Some people will really question some of the stuff that’s happening and why they’re doing what they’re doing, but isn’t that how you solve issues by having a conversation?”

Groundwell NZ farming advocacy group co-founder Bryce McKenzie is among the exhibitors invited by Federated Farmers.

William Robertson

“We thought that would be a great opportunity to bring farming voices together in one spot, so we were pretty keen on the idea,” he said. “I’m hopeful it’ll just cement relationships and help build a strong voice for agriculture in the future.

“Farmers are going to be talking about their high interest rates and lack of income to be quite honest. There’s a lot of sheep farmers out there that are finding it a major struggle to stay afloat. It’s a real struggle for them. It makes you wonder where the money’s actually going and why we’re not getting higher prices for our sheep meat overseas. There’s no easy answer to it. I think it’s a combination of a lot of things. Lamb is struggling to make $100 per head, last year they were getting $150 and $160. We’re excited to be part of it and we hope plenty of people will turn up and chat.”

Food and Fibre Youth Network chair William Robertson said the Young Farmers workstream was looking forward to getting everyone in one room.

Governor General Dame Cindy Kiro arrives at Fieldays last year. Photo: Mary Anne Gill

“Getting everyone in one room will help us collaborate as organisations and group to group.,” he said.

His network was particularly interested in the debate on the transport of live animals as members had various responses to it.

Gill Naylor

“There’s a split across the board, and that was almost more interesting than if we had a really strong for or against because it shows that there’s so many of perspectives in people’s understanding.

“Getting as many perspectives on a policy as possible will help build it out a bit better.”

Rural Women New Zealand national president Gill Naylor’s focus was the whole rural community.

“It’s broader than just than just industry,” she said.

“It’s about all the pressures that farmers are under at the moment, mental health, equity of service, which is huge and goes right across the board really from connectivity, health services, education, banking. You name it, it’s these issues.”

“It’s about celebrating the whole rural community as well as the primary industries. We know they’re a massive part of rural, but it goes far wider than farm industries.”

Fieldays 2023. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.


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