Sustainable farming is an investment not a cost, urge farmers

Rural Exchange 16/06/2018

Judge Valley Dairies is one of many farms across New Zealand that is opting for a more sustainable future.

Award-winning dairy farmers John Hayward and Susan O'Regan told Rural Exchange that while it’s valuable to meet the ever-changing consumer demands, it’s also important to produce food ethically.

“We had to change the way we farmed to tick those boxes,” Mr Hayward said. 

Their 245 hectare farm has reduced food waste, regenerated native bush and wetlands, built sediment dams, converted land a manuka plantation, and become diligent at recording water and fertiliser use.

Susan O'Regan and John Hayward. Photo: Facebook.

But despite their hard work, they agreed that it doesn’t feel like there is enough media recognition for farms investing in sustainable practices.

“There are a lot of good farmers out there doing good stuff. We’re pretty good at telling stories to each other but not potentially spreading that to the wider community and nationwide.”

Unfortunately, Ms O’Regan reckoned that some dairy farmers have had enough of the wider community labelling the whole industry as uncommitted to environmental efforts.

But she clarified that it will take more than just a number of farmers doing good work to get noticed.

“I think there’s quite a move afoot within the industry to tidy everything up.”

Mr Hayward chipped in to explain that farmers need to see the move towards sustainability as an investment for the future, rather than a cost.

“It needs to be seen as an investment in our future for the industry.”

Judge Valley Dairies were named the supreme winners of Waikato Farm Environmental Awards in 2016, in addition to various awards for their soil management, dairy farming, and water protection efforts.  

Watch the full interview with John Hayward and Susan O'Regan above.

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