Climate Change Workshops Receive Positive Response from Farmers

Last month, over 1,500 farmers around New Zealand educated themselves on why and how they should start responding to climate change, thanks to new workshops run by Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) and Silver Fern Farms (SFF).

The 59 workshops focused on supporting farmers to know the emissions profile of their farms.

The workshops walked attendees through the process of knowing their numbers by using B+LNZ's Greenhouse Gas (GHG) calculator. The second stage of the workshop provided 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 are practical and add value to the farming business.

"Farmers need to understand their own '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're then walked through the tools we've 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 is learnt in the workshops will help farmers contribute to the sector's He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Action Partnership milestones; by the end of 2021, 25 percent of farmers need to their annual total on-farm emissions and have a written plan to manage emissions.

Another benefit for attendees was meeting a key requirement of the newly-launched New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) Plus.

Rata Smith, a sheep and beef farmer in Curio Bay, attended a workshop and gave positive feedback.

"The B+LNZ and SFF workshop was so simple; we were guided through the online programme and left a few hours later with our actual emission number easy. Now I know where I am in terms of emissions and where to take action to make a difference. I recommend all farmers go," she said.

Silver Fern Farms chief executive, Simon Limmer, said they were delighted with the high level of 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.

"The high participation rates at the workshop are just another way farmers are responding to growing customer demand for sustainably produced red meat. 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 the market and can deliver the best value back through the farm-gate," said Limmer.

Building on the success of these workshops, B+LNZ will be rolling out further workshops for farmers who haven't been able to make these dates or who are not Silver Fern Farms suppliers – for more information, farmers should contact their local B+LNZ extension manager.