Farmers are flabbergasted to learn that Fonterra borrowed money to pay dividends over the last few years.
The federation joined forces with a commercial conference organising company to stage the event at Te Papa Museum in Wellington.
Milne says they decided to do something different and bring primary industries into Wellington to connect closer with politicians, academics, government officials and agribusiness people.
“It’s gone well and good feedback from everybody showed this format has worked. People made the connections we wanted them to make.
“We had great speakers from overseas and New Zealand and the conference had a different buzz.”
Milne says the farming sector is pretty flat at present despite prices being good.
The conference was aimed at helping the public and decisionmakers to better understand farming. Attendees aired their concerns, chiefly on government policies. And alternative proteins were also heard as a worry.
“Typical concerns were, what effect is the Zero Carbon Bill going to have on farms? and what must farmers do today about water policies?
They are uncertain what the impacts will be, Milne said.
“We also don’t think the regulatory impact analyses and cost benefit analyses have been properly done on a lot of these things, in particular the flow-on effects.”
Milne says the challenge is to deal with such issues while simultaneously identifying opportunities for the primary sector and seeing a clear path to achieve goals.