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Dairy Environment Leaders' Forum 2014

Land & Water

Developing a vision, learning from thought-provoking speakers and visiting Parliament were at the forefront of the recent Dairy Environment Leaders’ Forum held in Wellington. 

Motivating leaders to work together

Ninety six farmers from across New Zealand attended the three-day event themed “Dairy Leading Change: Collectively Managing Our Future”.  The annual Forum supports dairy farmers to step-up and become environment leaders on their farms, in their communities and in the industry. 

A highlight of the Forum was a visit to the Beehive, hearing from Hon Nathan Guy the Minister of Primary Industries, meeting MPs to share stories about dairy farming and attending a dinner hosted by the Minister in the Great Hall at Parliament. 

The Forum started with last year’s alumni returning, reconnecting and presenting what they’d done during the year. These successes were illustrated in an impressive 'Wall of Achievements'. These ranged from forming catchment groups, upgrading effluent systems and building wetlands, to bringing school kids to farms to show them dairying in action and how farmers care for the land, animals and people. 

An evening event allowed alumni and new Forum delegates to meet and mingle and experience the “Great Debate” between three dairy farmers and three environmentalists. The debate, adjudicated by Land Information Minister and Minister for Women Louise Upston, was a great opportunity not only to hone debating skills but also to convey industry and farmer achievements. 

The Forum presented farmers with a mix of inspiring and thought-provoking sessions around sustainability, innovation, competitive advantage and leadership. Speakers included prominent lawyer Mai Chen, clinical psychologist Nigel Latta, politician Damien O’Connor and international adventurer Jamie Fitzgerald. 

“Hearing from leaders from inside and outside the industry who shared their insights and experience was great,” says Canterbury farmer Tony Coltman. 

Networking and learning about industry progress and areas where more needs to be done prepared farmers for the changes they are expected to make on-farm in 2015. Each delegate left with a “game plan” of actions to work on over the next year and a support network of like-minded people who they can turn to for advice. These actions will be reviewed at next year’s event. 

“This was one of the best events I have ever attended,” says Tony Coltman. “I came back to my farm inspired to change things, to go out to the community and engage with more people on the environmental issues that we all have to deal with.”

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