Dave Harrison is pleased environmental issues are
increasingly being talked about in New Zealand.
Debate in Europe - still New Zealand's highest-paying market
for red meat - had moved on from greenhouse gas emissions to
water quality and quantity, biodiversity and other
''It's really important to get our head around all these
sorts of things as quickly as possible,'' he said.
Mr Harrison has been based in Brussels, as Beef and Lamb New
Zealand's regional manager for Europe, since 2010.
As part of Beef and Lamb NZ's market access team, he worked
on environmental, technical and trade policy issues affecting
access for New Zealand sheepmeat and beef into Europe.
During a visit home, Mr Harrison attended a land and
environmental planning workshop in Waikouaiti for farmers.
Beef and Lamb NZ's Central South Island extension officer
Aaron Meikle said changing rules and regulations had ''always
been a part of life'' in farming.
The Land and Environment Plan process was about accommodating
and dealing with them.
The plans guided farmers through a recorded assessment of a
farm's land and environmental issues and helped them develop
a written plan outlining how those issues would be managed.
It involved a stock-take of land, soil and water resources,
an assessment of production opportunities and environmental
risks, and development of a plan showing what actions would
be undertaken, where they would be targeted, and when they
would be implemented.
Mr Harrison said it was great to have farmers like those
involved in the Waikouaiti workshop taking those ''initial
steps'' and more of that engagement was needed.
Originally from the UK, Mr Harrison worked for the Ministry
of Agriculture (now Ministry for Primary Industries) and the
Meat Industry Association, before joining Beef and Lamb in
2007 as legal counsel.
In Europe, Beef and Lamb's team had two main functions -
market development, which was promotion, and the market
access programme, which monitored policy within the EU.
Lobbying for better beef access was a ''perennial thing''
and, with the possibility of free trade negotiations in two
years, would begin to ''take up a little bit more time''.
Beef and Lamb was also involved in a project with the
European Meat Trade Association to develop methodology for
assessing the impact of meat production.
It also worked alongside farmer groups in Europe on issues
they had in common, such as attracting young people into the
industry, or the best way to communicate with farmers.
While it was easy in New Zealand to look at Europe as being
the European market, it was very diverse between countries.
That diversity ranged from consumer preferences to how people
did business, he said.
Mr Harrison also sat on the steering committee of the Food
and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations' livestock
environmental assessment and performance partnership.
A comment heard ''time and time again'' was of the challenge
of feeding nine billion people by 2050 ''without stripping
the planet and doing it sustainably'', he said.
Where regulations were being imposed, there was a stick - but
there was also a carrot. New Zealand's meat industry had a
long-term investment in Europe, with partnerships extending
over decades. There was proven stability, as well as the best
returns, he said.
His view and the view of most major European producers was
that demand for sheepmeat and beef was going to be strong, he
An agreement between Federated Farmers and Beef and Lamb New
Zealand means sheep and beef farmers will have a stronger
voice in the regions on environmental issues, the two
Beef and Lamb NZ has added a regional policy capacity to its
national and international policy activities, directed at
sustainability, through a contract with Federated Farmers to
use its regional policy network.