Marlborough Express - Farming forum worth attending

Friday, March 27, 2015

The perennial popularity of the television programme Country Calendar is indicative of New Zealanders' love of the land and the importance of the rural sector to our society and culture.

Rural New Zealand faces a number of issues in the next decade and for this reason a group of farmers and others interested in the land have organised a Future of the Heartland forum on April 17 at the Te Mania Angus Stud, Conway Flat. I applaud this initiative and hope that there will be a good contingent of Marlburians there on the day.

Agriculture is the backbone of the New Zealand economy and I am sure that the range of topics covered and the quality of presenters will be of benefit to anyone interested in rural issues.

Charles Wiffen, one of the organisers, is extremely excited about the programme.

"There is no question that it is going to be a great day. There are huge opportunities out there for rural communities.

"The big question for the sector is how we find ways to move forward and double our export earnings by 2025," he said.

Nathan Guy, the Minister for Primary Industries, and other senior politicians will be attending the forum to hear successful rural entrepreneurs join a range of speakers from Federated Farmers, Environment Canterbury, the local Chamber of Commerce and local government. The event will provide a great opportunity for interaction between politicians, community leaders and those on the land. The aim is to highlight "best practice" and to explore new ideas that will ultimately benefit the whole country, not just the rural sector.

The topics covered encompass a range of issues including the role of government in supporting agriculture in the 21st century, bio-security incursions and their impact on farmers, sustainable farming practices that will deliver value-added opportunities for New Zealand, the importance of agriculture to New Zealand's economic future, the value of water storage and opportunities and challenges in establishing irrigation schemes, and a local government perspective on issues facing farmers and the rural community.

The Te Mania Estate is an amazing venue and is worth visiting in its own right.

The organisers are expecting several hundred farmers, plus people interested in the rural sector, to attend the forum.

I will definitely be there. I hope that plenty of others will join me.