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Dairy forum fosters environmental leadership

1 January 2009

Dairy forum fosters environmental leadership

An environmental leadership forum held in Rotorua this week brought together 22 of the nation's top dairy farmers to hammer out farmer-led solutions to environmental challenges facing the industry.

Convened by The New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust and DairyNZ, the forum was the third annual workshop for award-winning dairy farmers to learn about becoming champions for sustainability in the agricultural industry.

Event chairman, Martin Bennett said the forum was part of a nationwide programme to help New Zealand dairy farmers be more proactive about environmental management.

"The group were given a big challenge to take the concept of sustainability from a variety of perspectives and then work out what that meant to them and how they can best lead our industry in this area," Mr Bennett said.

Over the three days the participants heard from experts from the banking sector, Maori affairs, fresh water ecologists, policy advisors, key dairy industry figures and Green Party MP Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"The aim of the programme is to give these farmers the tools and knowledge they need to continue the leadership they have already shown," he said.

"We hope they will then act as advocates, mentors and spokespeople to help drive change on the farm and communicate what they are doing for the sustainability of their industry to the wider community as well."

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader for sustainability Dr Rick Pridmore said the forum has given rise to some quality leaders.

"Past participants have become involved in a variety of environmental programmes like stream catchment groups, planting initiatives, and Dairy Action Teams. Encouraging these people is crucial for our industry."
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 david.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz.