The Northland dairy and meat farmers are the first in a five-year programme that aims to help them get greener and financially leaner.
Funded by New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Northland Regional Council, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Extension 350 initiative aims to work with 350 farms by 2022.
It is part of a wider interdepartmental government scheme to create jobs, income and invest in regional and rural parts of New Zealand.
Improving farmer livelihood
“Extension 350 will influence local pastoral farmers to perform better and any improvement in profitability has the scale to make a significant economic impact in the Northland community,” said Ben Dalton, head of the regional growth programme at MPI.
“Research shows farmers accept advice much more readily from successful farmers and Extension 350 builds on previous similar initiatives aimed at farm transformation.
“Being profitable allows farmers the flexibility to make decisions that support longer-term goals for on-farm improvements, debt repayment, managing succession and improving their livelihood,” Dalton added.
Extensive 350’s steering group chairperson Ken Hames said livestock farming in the Northland was a billion-dollar industry.
“The region has approximately 2,000 pastoral farmers. However, studies and industry benchmarking have shown there’s room for Northland’s pastoral sector to improve, based on the levels of resources and the high numbers employed in the sector there,” Hames added.
Extensive 350’s five-point plan
• Elevate on-farm performance of Northland farms
• Improve profitability of the farming businesses
• Drive step-change environmental sustainability gains
• Strengthen farming networks and improve farm-to-farm partnerships
• Increase participation and engagement of Māori farmers and incorporations
• Enhance farmer wellbeing and engagement