27 November 2015
The New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and its flagship event, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, have celebrated another successful year.
Now available on the Trust’s website, the 2015 annual report outlines the organisation’s continued growth through 2015, with another region signing up to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).
“We are delighted to have the Auckland region in the Awards for the 2016 programme,” said NZFE Trust chairman Simon Saunders.
“Having Auckland on board is a huge step towards being able to offer a complete national programme. We are almost there.”
NZFE Trust also formalised a long standing partnership between Environment Southland and the BFEA. Mr Saunders said the Trust is looking forward to developing this partnership further “to not only benefit the continued success of the BFEA in Southland, but all agriculture in Southland”.
Nationally, the BFEA programme continues to draw accolades and capture strong media interest. Farmer attendance at BFEA field days across the country was outstanding, and these field days and other NZFE Trust events “keep delivering the very important messages on what New Zealand farmers are achieving”.
With the agricultural sector facing many challenges, including issues surrounding water quality and nutrient loss, the relevance of the NZFE Trust and the BFEA could not be greater.
“It’s critical that the farmer’s voice is heard. The BFEA programme is continually doing this through entrants and award-winning farmers showcasing what they are achieving, sharing the knowledge ideas and skills that will drive better environmental, economic and social outcomes for New Zealand’s most important sector.”
Another highlight for 2015 was the staging of a very successful National Sustainability Showcase at Parliament Buildings in June. This event honoured Supreme winners of the 2015 BFEA and culminated with the presentation of the Gordon Stephenson trophy to the National Winners, Rotorua farmers John and Catherine Ford – the first North Island farmers to collect the title.
The Fords have thrown themselves into their ambassadorial role with great gusto, speaking at many industry-related events and hosting a wide range of visitors on their 1240ha farm. In April 2016 they will be heading off to the USA for a study tour as part of the National Winner prize package.
Mr Saunders also applauded 2014 National Winners Mark and Devon Slee.
“They have opened up their farm to numerous visitors and been wonderful Ambassadors for the BFEA and agriculture in general.”
The 2016 National Sustainability Showcase will be held in Northland.
Mr Saunders congratulated all farmers who entered the 2015 BFEA.
“It is really encouraging to hear from first-time entrants being very impressed by their experience.”
Another pleasing feature of the 2015 competition was the increased number of horticulturist and grower entrants.
Mr Saunders said many people and organisations contribute to the success of the awards. He acknowledged the dedication of the Trust’s management staff and its army of volunteers throughout the country.
Regional Councils are another critical contributor to the success of the BFEA programme. NZFE Trust recently conducted an independent review of its partnership with Regional Councils that is designed to identify how the Trust and Regional Councils can deliver improved awards programmes, lift the profile of awards, develop more learning opportunities for farmers and deliver key messages on more sustainable and profitable farming.
Mr Saunders also thanked the Trust’s strategic partners and sponsors, welcoming CB Norwood Distributors Ltd to the sponsorship family.
Other NZFE Trust highlights for 2015 are outlined in the annual report, which is available on the Trust’s website at www.nzfeatrust.org.nz