1 January 2010
The East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards are a very welcome addition to the region's rural calendar, says an East Coast farming leader.
The East Coast recently joined the awards programme which now runs in nine regions throughout the country and is designed to promote sustainable land management.
Hamish Cave, provincial president of Gisborne-Wairoa Federated Farmers, expects strong interest in the inaugural East Coast awards and is encouraging farmers to enter the prestigious competition.
"From what I've heard, the Farm Environment Awards are very highly regarded because they give farmers the tools to help them improve their farming practices," he says.
"Its great news that they have come to this region."
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards showcase farmers who are farming in a manner that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
Most people enter the awards to gain feedback on how their farming or horticultural operation stacks up in terms of environmental sustainability. Entrants also seek ideas from competition judges and other participants on how to improve the sustainability of their businesses.
Hamish, a Ngatapa sheep and beef farmer, says the awards will create a greater awareness of sustainability issues and will also give the region the opportunity to showcase its farming sector.
"I think most East Coast farmers are doing a good job, but this competition will highlight some of the environmental challenges farmers face in the region, particularly soil erosion."
Climate is another major issue and Hamish says while three droughts in a row (and one of the wettest Julys recorded) has hit farmer morale, its also made them think hard about ways to improve sustainability.
He believes the awards will complement the Federated Farmers Gisborne-Wairoa Hill Country Farmer of The Year competition, which has been held every second year since 1981.
He says farmers who are considering entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards should "absolutely give it a go because there is a lot to be gained".
"Most farmers are very proud of what they do and I think these awards are a great way to celebrate our farming successes."
Entries for the 2011 East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on September 1 and close on October 13, 2010.
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, email firstname.lastname@example.org.