Planning for New Zealand's recognition of the 2014 United
Nations International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) is under
way and many industry groups are involved.
Steering group convener Brendan Hoare, Auckland, who is the
Oceania representative on the IYFF 2014 world consultative
committee, has been working on the project for two years.
He said the year was designed to draw attention to global
issues affecting farmers as well as highlighting the
importance and value of family farming to New Zealand and its
connectivity to the rest of the world.
''It is not just about agriculture. It is about farm workers,
fishers, foresters, viticulture, horticulture and a positive
way of life,'' Mr Hoare said.
''Farming is a great way to raise children, a good way to be
in business and a good way to look after the environment.''
He said the year was a recognition that most of the poor in
the world were living rurally, and that most affected were
women and children, in particular girls, issues the United
Nations was aware of.
Farming families in many countries also faced land grabbing
from corporates, and food sovereignty, land rights and
self-determination issues. The year's objectives included
''support of the development of policies conducive to
sustainable family farming; increasing knowledge,
communication and public awareness on family farming; gaining
a better understanding of family farming needs, potential and
constraints; and ensuring technical support availability and
creating synergies for sustainability'', he said.
Representatives from the groups, including DairyNZ and Rural
Women New Zealand, met recently to consider the projects and
activities they could undertake to raise the profile of
farming families in New Zealand.
The year will be overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and Trade. Possible projects included focusing on education,
science, quality assurance, information sharing, celebration
events, lobbying, and programmes to support to improved
health, wellbeing and financial security. Mr Hoare said many
issues affecting overseas farming families were also relevant
to New Zealand rural families.
These included succession issues, indebtedness and rural and
urban tension, the environment and biodiversity. He said it
was important for those in the primary industries to act
''About 20% of dairy farmers have levels of indebtedness
which are at a critical level and that is not good for them
or their families, nor for New Zealand, at that level. We
also need to have discussions around brand New Zealand and
interconnectiveness with international farmers and markets.''