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A two-way race has developed for the Central South Island seat on the board of Beef + Lamb New Zealand. Standing for the directorship are Milton’s Simon Davies and Timaru incumbent Nicky Hyslop, who is seeking re-election after retiring by rotation after completing her three-year term. Voting papers will be posted next month for the March 18 election. To be eligible to vote, a livestock farmer must have owned at least 250 sheep, or 50 beef cattle, or 100 dairy cattle, at the end of last June. Central Rural Life posed a series of questions to each candidate ...
Hyslop: I am a committed sheep and cattle farmer who is equally excited and challenged by the future of New Zealand livestock farming. We produce some of the most sustainable, high-quality, grass-fed protein in the world. Our customers are increasingly discerning and our communities want to see commitments to reducing our environmental impact.
Davies: I am a passionate, engaged, “hands-on” sheep and beef farmer and a strong supporter of Beef + Lamb. I have been on the farmer council for several years. I feel that in the last couple of years the wider agricultural sector has become less cohesive. As a result, the needs of the sector have been compromised by chasing the needs of individual industries — sheep and beef versus dairy versus deer.
Why should farmers vote for you?
Hyslop: My farming background (hill/high country and intensive, irrigated sheep and beef), advisory experience and 20 years’ governance has exposed me to all the challenges we farmers face. We need a match-fit industry voice so we are well represented and strategically positioned. I am a current director of BLNZ, Ravensdown and previous chairwoman of IrrigationNZ. I have first-hand experience of working with the government. I am a strong advocate for farmers and not afraid of robust debate while always looking for solutions.
Davies: I am concerned the pastoral agricultural sector has not been advocating with one voice. The agricultural sector needs to take a cohesive and co-operative approach towards change and challenges. This includes land use change, labour recruitment and retention, compliance and legislation. I want a much more consistent approach from the entire agricultural sector towards these topics.
Hyslop: The biggest challenge for 2022 is getting our heads around climate change, methane and carbon. I understand the science that shows livestock have contributed to global warming. On the other hand, our on-farm carbon sequestration must be recognised — this is why HWEN (keeping farmers out of the ETS) is so important. Seeing productive hill country going into trees with no limit to carbon offsetting is nuts and will be a disastrous consequence of poor policy and why we need urgent changes.
Davies: There are a number of challenges facing the sheep and beef sectors; land use change and labour resources are the top of mind. Land use change is being driven by settings from central government. I believe the settings need modification. However, the right tree in the right place holds true. This gives landowners an opportunity to plant some trees on parts of their land, which can be beneficial to both the environment and the financial viability of their own operations.The challenge of labour resources can be split into recruitment and retention. Both require good human resource skills, which is often lacking in the sector. Development of good employer-employee relationships with open and honest and respectful communication is key. I want more focus in this area.
What do you consider your main achievement so far to improve the livelihood of livestock farmers?
Hyslop: As an adviser, I was privileged to be part of farm progress being made — productivity, profitability and environmental stewardship. A personal focus has been to improve the public understanding of why and how we farm — improving social licence is one of the most effective ways to leverage government for sensible policies. I know the pressure is still on and I see and hear the farmers’ frustration of the pace of change ahead. I am a committed, determined representative of livestock farmers and an active, effective farmer director.
Davies: As the former Federated Farmers Otago president, I am proud of the part I played in achieving outcomes through the mediation of Otago’s regional plan change 8 (stock exclusion and winter grazing) — moving this regional legislation so it was consistent with national policies, while providing greater environmental protection and still being practical for both implementation and compliance.