16 February 2012
ZFE Trust chairman Jim Cotman, centre, with members of the Swedish Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Agriculture.
Members of a Swedish delegation will go home with positive views of New Zealand agriculture after visiting an award-winning farm in the Waikato.
On February 9, delegates from the Swedish Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Agriculture were hosted by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust on Gray and Marilyn Baldwin’s organic dairy farm near Putaruru.
The Baldwins and their sharemilkers, Hamish and Jane Putt, were Supreme winners of the 2009 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
NZFE chairman Jim Cotman said the Trust was asked by MAF to host the delegation that was in New Zealand to study agricultural policy and ecological production.
“We saw this as an opportunity to highlight the good environmental practices NZ farmers carry out on farm,” he said.
The Swedish visitors were clearly impressed by the tree planting and riparian protection work on the 138ha property. They also got to drink from a fresh water spring.
During the tour, Gray Baldwin and Hamish Putt discussed a wide range of topics, including pasture management, the Emission Trading Scheme, nutrient budgeting, tree planting, water protection and effluent disposal.
Gray Baldwin told the visitors his farming philosophy was to get “high quality and profitable milk out of one end of the system, and clean water out the other”.
“We have learned that what is good for the environment is great for business.”
Also addressing the delegation was Larry Bilodeau, chief executive of Ballance Agri-Nutrients, who explained the concept of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).
Administered by NZFE Trust and established to recognise the efforts of farmers using sustainable farming practices, the awards have been highly successful in showcasing good farming techniques to the wider farming community.
The Swedish committee’s ten delegates represented a number of different political parties. At the Baldwin’s farm they were joined by the Swedish ambassador for New Zealand and Australia and a range of other guests, including former BFEA winners, and representatives from DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ, Waikato Regional Council and Ballance Agri-Nutrients.
Mr Cotman said the visit to the Baldwin farm was a chance to showcase a positive example of sustainable farming to an international audience.
He said the Swedish visitors were clearly impressed by what they saw.
“I think they will go home with some very positive views of New Zealand 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.