Almost all the recommendations from two reviews of the Mycoplasma bovis programme have been accepted, after the ‘surge in activity’ leading up to this year’s moving day.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the government is putting up $3 million over four years to spread the message about the changes.
MPI has the task of communicating with farmers who haven’t been getting these messages from Beef + LambNZ and DairyNZ.
O’Connor says the government wants farmers to move from volume-based production to a value-based system, which requires a high standard of working conditions and sound environmental stewardship. He admits MPI can’t do the communicating itself so it will work with local farm advisory companies and industry-good organisations to get messages across.
He wants MPI to be in contact with 300 farmers NZ-wide in the first year -- those who have not been contacted by a normal advisory service before, he told Rural News.
“They may be the hardest to get to because they have their heads down getting on with their farm work and may not know of the new compliance issues coming up. The aim is to take a lead to help farmers and turn it into a positive engagement rather than forcing compliance on them.”
O’Connor says many farmers see compliance as a threat, but sooner or later dairy and meat companies will demand compliance so those who don’t comply may face severe consequences.
He says traditionally farmers have believed that the bottom 20% of their colleagues ‘will go broke so let’s not worry about them, we’ll just buy their farms’.
“But we can no longer sustain that approach to farming because the 20% who need to lift their game are the ones that tarnish NZ’s image in the international marketplace. We cannot afford to have people who don’t understand what they have to do.”
O’Connor hopes this new approach will work -- supporting farmers to achieve greater sustainability and value in their operations.
This can help lift water quality, improve biosecurity and help NZ meet its greenhouse gas emission targets.”