Being awarded the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) 2016 Otago Regional Supreme Winners title has led to an ongoing association with the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust for both Brendon and Paula Cross. As well as meeting wonderful people and making some great friends along the way, it is the positivity around the awards and inspiration they get from award entrants that motivates them in their roles as Chair for the Otago BFEA Committee for Brendon and Paula as the local Judging Coordinator.
The Cross’ farming business remains similar to what it was five years ago when they entered the awards, as they continue to run their sheep and beef farm operation, Roselle Farm on the Otago Peninsula at Portobello. Across properties (both owned and leased), totalling 930ha, they are currently running 3500 ewes, 1000 hoggets and 50 breeding cows with most stock store being sold at or soon after weaning.
Brendon believes that even though the sheep and beef industry has made outstanding progress over the last 20 to 30 years with productivity and efficiency gains from reduced stock and land farmed, “sustainability is never something that we should be complacent with and we always need to be striving for better and celebrating gains. There will be a number of developments come up over the next few years and we believe it is up to each farm to utilise the opportunities and developments that work for them and benefit them most.”
They see the biggest challenge for farmers and growers is being able to balance the environmental and financial aspects of sustainability, when best practice comes at a high cost. “We believe there are many environmental and animal welfare changes that farmers are happy to adhere too but it is difficult to implement when farmers and growers are trying to meet debt levels or want a financially sustainable business to pass on to the next generation.” Their advice to others is to connect with support groups to keep abreast of technology and future changes that are happening within the industry, as sharing knowledge and ideas is the best way to find solutions and make the most of opportunities. “Beef and Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ, Fruit Fed, Wine Growers Association, Agri Women’s Development Trust, Catchment Groups and of course The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, to name a few, are all organisations that offer opportunities and support. It is a good idea find out what programmes and areas of support they offer each year.“
What will the next five to ten years look like for Brendon and Paula? They hope to be continuing with their farm operation but with a bit more time available to spend with friends and family and enjoy their surroundings. As the sixth generation on this property, their long-term aspiration is to step back from the running of the farm to allow the next generation to take over and enjoy the challenges and rewards to farming on the beautiful Otago Peninsula.
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards