20 March 2012
An industry-backed trip to Europe will provide an award-winning farming couple with an opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s stance on agricultural sustainability.
In early March, Southland farmers Grant and Bernadette Weller embarked on a ten-day visit to the United Kingdom and Europe.
The Wellers, who farm an 890ha (850ha effective) sheep and beef farm in the Waimea Valley, won the Gordon Stephenson trophy after being selected as the National Winner of the 2011 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
New Zealand Farm Environment Trust chairman Jim Cotman said the Wellers will visit a number of key offshore markets for New Zealand sheep, beef and dairy products.
The aim, he says, is to learn more about these markets and to exchange views on topics of crucial interest to New Zealand.
“As ambassadors for our country, Grant and Bernie have been looking forward to representing grassroots farming and showing the world how NZ farmers view long term sustainability.
“They are eager to discuss their practical experience on the production of top quality specialist products and explain how we do this in NZ without subsidies.”
During the trip Grant and Bernie will visit industry and government agency contacts in London, Brussels, France and the Netherlands. In London, for example, they were scheduled to attend a meeting of the Sainsbury Lamb Producer Group.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand has ensured the Wellers will visit a number of key players in the livestock industry, with the programme put together by the organisation’s Europe manager, Dave Harrison.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive, Scott Champion said the Wellers had a compelling story to tell and the connections they would make on this trip would undoubtedly prove valuable.
Jim Cotman says the Wellers are successful business people and strong communicators “who will be able to effectively convey their sustainable farming beliefs and actions to a wide audience within New Zealand and beyond”.
“It is very important for NZ to dialogue with our trading partners, and we are very grateful to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Fonterra for their help in making this a valuable trip for NZ agriculture.”
For more information on the New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust or the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.