Keeping up with change

The rate of change for New Zealand’s primary industries in areas such as environmental, regulatory and compliance is unprecedented. Whether associated with freshwater, nutrients, wetlands, greenhouse gasses, what types of farming need consents, water infrastructure, the RMA — this list seems endless!

At a conference recently, an experienced consultant mentioned to us that they were finding it hard to keep fully up to speed with all the changes. If they were struggling, when it was a major part of their business, they wondered how farmers were coping with staying fully up to speed when these matters were only one very narrow aspect of farming operations. 


So, how are you going?

Many changes are being driven by Central and local Government, although they are also being influenced by international market forces. Recent news suggested that market forces could have greater impacts in terms of on-farm practices and sustainability than local or national requirements. For example, Tesco supermarkets have raised a warning flag saying that “Around 2025 to 2030 we want to make sure that 100% of what we source in terms of fresh produce, meat and dairy is environmentally accredited.” With over 2,300 stores across Europe and Asia, Tesco is a big player in the market. A similar position is likely to emerge from other large retail outlets that are supplied by the New Zealand primary industry.

What the messaging from overseas and some supply chains is telling us, is that environmental performance is going to become increasingly important. Not only will performance be critical; auditing and reporting of performance will also need to be robust. What this means for farmers is that it is no longer sufficient to “be” a good farmer and to make good decisions which help lead to sound environmental outcomes, we also now need to “prove” that this is the case. 

Because future farming will potentially be driven as much by the supply chain, overseas policy and consumer preferences, as by internal politics, it seems unlikely that a change in national or local government will lead to a significant shift in the direction of travel. Proof of sound environmental outcomes is here to stay!

Because of the diverse nature of many of the recent environmental and regulatory changes, the assistance of industry experts is becoming increasingly important. Although our friend at the recent conference may be struggling to keep up, it’s likely that they will be far better informed about these matters than many of us. The role of trusted advisors has always been important, although as things get more complicated this importance is only likely to grow. With the complexity of many changes, it is becoming more likely that any one adviser will not have all of the answers. It is more likely that specialist advice may need to be sought from a variety of experts.

What is important, is that if unsure — ask!

However, make sure that you are asking the right questions to the right person. Note that good advisors will know the boundaries of their own knowledge and refer on to others in their network where appropriate. A good advisor may also help you to ask the right questions — after all, we don’t know what we don’t know!

Pick up the phone and call your trusted advisors. Make sure you are making fully informed decisions that not only seek the required environmental outcomes, but also consider all the implications for your business.

Aqualinc have a number of specialists with a wide range of expertise who can provide practical advice and solutions to many of these emerging problems.

For more information

Christchurch: +64 3 964 6521
Ashburton: +64 3 307 6680
Hastings: +64 6 873 404
Cromwell: +64 27 457 0415

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