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Farmers flock to climate workshop

More than 1500 farmers around New Zealand have been getting to grips with why and how they should start responding to a changing climate, thanks to new workshops run by Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Silver Fern Farms (SFF).

One of the workshops was held in Gisborne yesterday afternoon, and another at Frasertown yesterday morning.

Shanna Cairns from AgFirst facilitated the local workshops, with Paul Kirkpatrick representing SFF and Mark Harris B+LNZ.

There will be 59 workshops across the country focused on supporting farmers to know the emissions profile of their farm.

“Believed to be a world first in terms of scale, depth of content and partnership approach, the workshops step attendees through a process to ‘know their numbers' by using B+LNZ's Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Calculator,” Mark Harris said.

“The second stage of the workshop provides technical assistance and templates so farmers can develop an action plan to manage GHG emissions.”

B+LNZ's North Island general manager Corina Jordan said the workshops were practical and add value to the farming business.

“Farmers need to understand their ‘why' in terms of climate response, so it really means something to them — whether that's because they want to build a more resilient business, understand the implications of future policy on-farm, or whether they want to unlock market opportunities and meet the expectations of consumers.

“The workshops take a whole of farm systems approach, with the first step being to help farmers understand how actions undertaken on-farm result in improvements in environmental performance including the sustainable management of GHGs, animal wellbeing and increasing on-farm performance.

“They are then walked through the tools we have developed to help them with measurement and management. Farmers leave the workshops knowing their numbers, including carbon sequestration opportunities, and with a written plan that will future-proof their farming business.

“What they learn in the workshops will help farmers contribute to the sector's He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Action Partnership milestones. By the end of this year, 25 percent of farmers need to know their annual total on-farm emissions and have a written plan to manage emissions.

“The other benefit for farmers is that they will be meeting a key requirement of the newly-launched New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) Plus.”

The workshops began this week and run until next Friday.

“Feedback from participants has already been very positive,” Mr Harris said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive, Simon Limmer, said the company was delighted with the extremely high level of farmer interest in the workshops.

“Our suppliers are really engaged in emissions reduction and wider environmental issues on-farm and Silver Fern Farms want to support that as much as we can.

“The great thing about the workshop approach is that it focuses on empowering farmers via practical tools and advice to inform the decisions they are making every day to manage their farms.

“Our ability to proactively respond to climate change and the transition to a low carbon economy will ensure we are aligned with consumer expectations in market and can deliver best value back through the farm gate.”

Mr Harris said B+LNZ will be rolling out further workshops for local farmers who were unable to make it yesterday, or who are not Silver Fern Farms suppliers.

MORE WORKSHOPS PLANNED: Those local farmers who missed out on the nationwide climate change workshop held in Gisborne yesterday can rest assured there will be more. It was presented by AgFirst, Beef and Lamb NZ and Silver Fern Farms. File picture