Like many New Zealand farmers, I am often irritated by compliance and regulation. In my view, excessive red tape often gets in the way of doing what is really important in taking our businesses forward.
However, lately I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about policy and regulation in relation to our commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. There is no doubt that under the accord, the New Zealand Government will have to drive major changes to reduce greenhouse gases and honour our commitments.
On top of that, media interest in the cleanliness of our waterways and the treatment of animals within our farming systems is high. It feels like every other week there is a story raging on social media damning various farming practices.
Delving into the comment sections of these stories is fairly sobering. In our latest edition of The Breeder, we profile key results from Nana Bortsie-Aryee’s PhD thesis.
For me, the intriguing aspect of his thesis is the role compliance plays in influencing farming practices of leading environmental farmers. What he found was that compliance was the trigger that started farmers on their journey of improved environmental management.
Interestingly, where they moved to, in terms of exemplary practice and farming results, went well beyond the levels of compliance they needed to adhere to.
Compliance on-farm will continue to grow in response to the very big welfare and environmental challenges we face as an industry. In the words of ANZCO Foods’ agricultural manager Alan McDermott, “farm as though people are watching you – because they are”.
The challenge for all of us is to ensure that compliance is sensible – this means we need to have agriculturalists at the policy table - and where we can, we need to use compliance as a trigger for achieving positive outcomes.
The leading farmers Nana studied for his PhD are inspirational, and thinking about these farmers helps me reconsider my thinking on where compliance sits in the agricultural industry.
To read The Breeder summer 2016-17 edition, click here