Taranaki farmers Peter and Nicola Carver are pleased to be back on their farm after a trip to Wellington as the National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming.
“It was great to get a better understanding of how Wellington works. But it’s also good to get home and get stuck into improving our farming operation,” Peter says.
The Carvers combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property at Ohangai, east of Hawera.
The couple won the Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards in April then joined the supreme winners from the other 10 regions at a national event in May where they won the national ambassador role in recognition of their commitment to the primary sector and the environment.
The Carvers made the trip to Wellington to meet with agribusiness and government leaders as part of their new duties.
The Carvers were given a tour of the Beehive by Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger where they also met other MPs such as Labour’s primary industries spokesman Damien O’Connor and Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie, who has chaired the Primary Production Committee.
“Clearly in the build-up to the election there’s a lot of discussion about the effects farming has on the environment,” Nicola says.
“I think there has been a shift in farmers’ attitudes. Farmers recognise they need to be part of the solution. As a collective we’ve got a way to go but we’re now on a journey.”
While in Wellington, Peter and Nicola met a range of agribusiness leaders from organisations such as DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Rabobank and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
“One of the things that struck me was how the language of our industry leaders has changed. Whereas in the past I think we’ve been guilty of being defensive, now I hear much more about the need for farmers and the primary sector to step up to meet community expectations.”
The Carvers will be undertaking an overseas tour in the autumn funded by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust and will share insights from their travels when they return. They are considering travelling to the US where Peter is particularly interested in a closer look at some no-tillage farming operations and what that means for improving soil fertility.
“It was great to spend a couple of days in Wellington but it’s always nice to get home,” he says. “It’s a busy time of year and we have lots to do. One of our priorities outside the daily grind of lambing and calving is to continue planting our slopes in trees. Like all farmers, we’re determined to leave our land in better shape than when we moved here.”
Peter says the Taranaki Regional Council has given them tremendous advice and supported their efforts to meet that goal.
The couple is interested in building connections with urban communities – starting with hosting some of the people who showed them hospitality in Wellington.
“We’d love to return the favour – with whoever that may be after election day,” says Nicola.
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