Strict hygiene standards on dairy farms will be an important part of long-term export market protection, say award-winning Waikato farmers Adrian and Pauline Ball.
The awards are organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity promoting sustainable farming and growing.
Trust chair Joannne van Polanen, who farms in Mid-Canterbury, says the primary sector needs to tell its stories.
“These awards enable farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and to a wider audience.”
National judging co-ordinator Andrea Hanna says all farmers and growers, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, are eligible to enter.
“Each entrant is visited by a small group of rural professionals who identify opportunities to improve the financial and environmental sustainability of the farm business. It’s not just targeted at top farmers. The awards are an important opportunity to grow and learn from others.”
Hanna explains that the judging teams have a wide range of skills and look at all parts of the farming business. Judging is relaxed and friendly and climate factors are taken into account.
“In the past we’ve found farmers can be reluctant to enter if their farm has been affected by unseasonal weather or some other event. But the judges understand that unexpected challenges are part of farming and will look beyond this at the wider picture,” she says.
Many past entrants say their involvement has helped their personal development because they get to meet and be inspired by like-minded people.
People may nominate another farming or growing business they feel would benefit from involvement in the awards programme.
Entries to the 2018-19 Ballance Farm Environment Awards close late October. The entrants and award winners will be announced at regional functions next autumn.
Entry is free and simple online at: www.bfea.org.nz