Public attitudes are very strong on environmental issues such as clean water and that is driving policy according to the Director of the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre (FLRC) at Massey University.
Beginning in 2015, the Red Meat Network allows 20 leading students from six tertiary institutions to listen to high calibre speakers from the red meat sector, including Mike Peterson – a member of New Zealand’s Special Trade Envoy for Agriculture.
Funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP) which is a Primary Growth Partnership Programme, the network has added to the significant gains the partnership has aimed to deliver in terms of increased productivity to sheep and beef farmers.
RMPP general manager Michael Smith says encouraging young people into the red meat sector was a key part of increasing productivity.
“We do this by showcasing a range of pathways for them to take by bringing in inspiring and diverse speakers.”
Smith says it had been encouraging to see many students attend and engage with speakers.
“And those students are often studying in fields as diverse as commerce, arts and food safety.
RMN South Island facilitator Patrick Aldwell says the network provides students with an important industry network while studying.
“They are exposed to a wide variety of domestic and international roles in agribusiness and are shown the many pathways available to take those roles on.”
Aldwell says students quickly learnt that ‘who you know becomes just as important as what you know’, and the programme offered plenty of networking opportunities.
Massey University Bachelor of Agri-commmerce student Cameron Walker says the speakers had passed on invaluable advice.
“As I leave university I realise how important networks such as the Red Meat Network are.”
A senior lecturer at Massey, Dr Nicola Schreurs agreed and says the RMP was a great initiative.
“It has been brilliant to see the students step-up and engage with industry representatives and I believe the students are getting useful information and advice from people working right through the red meat value-chain. In the process they are becoming increasingly excited about the potential of meat production in New Zealand”
RMPP work closely with NZ Young Farmers who coordinate the RMN and are looking to increase the number of training providers and students involved in 2017.
Currently the RMP operates in Otago, Lincoln, Massey, Waikato Universities, Telford and Otiwhiti Land Based Training and is co-ordinated by New Zealand Young Farmers.