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''Farmers feel the rural respect has been eroded,'' CEO Sam McIvor said.
''Most commonly we see in the media whether it's animal welfare, climate change, environmental degradation, alternative proteins or feedlotting there is no doubt that farmers are being targeted.
''Having been the face of the NZ pork industry during a media and activist animal welfare onslaught for three years, I can sympathise.
''The environment is at the heart of everything sheep and beef farmers do.
''It's why in 2018 we launched our environment strategy with the goals of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, having clean freshwater surrounding our sheep and beef farms, having thriving biodiversity on farm, and healthy and productive soils.
Mr McIvor said last year Beef + Lamb NZ focused on delivering more resources and tools to farmers to help them proactively manage environmental impacts and launched the sector's environment strategy.
''Can I emphasise the importance of you joining the other 2500 farmers already audited.
''We know that working and learning together is the best way to achieve successful change.
''The 32 catchment community initiatives that have sprung up so far are a sign that you as farmers value this approach, too.''
Beef +Lamb NZ chairman Andrew Morrison said having strong environmental credentials would underpin the work of the new Taste Pure Nature brand campaign which would help to market New Zealand beef and lamb overseas.
''Over the past couple of decades our focus was on being the most productive and efficient producers in the world ...
''We need to remain productive but everything has to have an environmental perspective.''
Farmers were also updated about the challenges facing the sector in 2019 with insights on issues such as climate change, water quality, and biodiversity, which are all set for regulatory change in the months ahead.
Mr McIvor said Beef+Lamb NZ was working hard over Brexit and the possible risk to EU beef and sheep meat quota.
''We are leaving no stone unturned in this area.''
''We've put Jeff Grant into London alongside Ben O'Brien in Brussels; beside government we're strongly advocating against split quotas and scoping our legal options, too.
'We've also prepared our Meat Board quota allocation and and certification processes for various scenarios, to minimise disruption and price impacts for farmers.''
-By Chris Tobin