Sustainable farming is leader's passion

JACQUIE WEBBY
Last updated 07:05 16/12/2013
Lynda Murchison is Federated Farmers North Canterbury's new provincial president.
Fairfax NZ
BUSY LADY: Lynda Murchison is Federated Farmers North Canterbury's new provincial president.

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Lynda Murchison is no lightweight when it comes to the agricultural world.

She has worked in resource management in Canterbury for 18 years, for district councils, the regional council and Ngai Tahu.

She also runs her own consultancy, lectures part-time at the University of Canterbury in resource and environmental management, and has taken up the Roper Scholarship to study for a PhD, looking at environmental issues in New Zealand farming.

And as if that is not enough, she is also Federated Farmers North Canterbury's new provincial president. She is barely three months into her new role, but has hit the ground running.

Murchison and her husband Jock farm a dryland sheep and beef property in the Weka Pass, North Canterbury, and have lived in the area since 2005.

They hail from Lake Coleridge, where the Murchison family has farmed since 1878.

Murchison replaced Neil Stott, who was provincial president from 2010 and she was the sole nominee.

She speaks highly of Stott saying he was a "dedicated and committed president who worked hard for farmers and farming during some challenging times".

"He has also supported me as I moved into my new role," she said.

Murchison's passion is sustainable agriculture.

"I joined the executive of Federated Farmers to advocate for improved outcomes for farming, including opportunities for red meat and wool.

"Farmers are businessmen, making decisions which are relative to the business of farming, such as meat reform and land and water issues and one of the biggest issues facing them in the future will be land and water issues.

"Farmers tend to hide their environmental lights under their bushels and tolerate, at times, some unfair raps.

"Now even more, farmers need to be committed to sustainable farming practices and be brave enough to lead the management of land and water for the benefit of the whole of the community".

Communication is another of Murchison's prime platforms but, she admits, some issues, such as improved high speed broadband coverage remain work in progress.

"To have a collective resource [of farmers] we need good communication," she said.

"There are a lot of demands on farmers these days.

"They are being called on to be trustees of various organisations, including schools and they just don't have time for farmer meetings, so numbers fall and branches fold.

"Communication needs to be smarter so we can get the messages out electronically," she said.

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Murchison also wants to work on bringing younger farmers into the organisation.

"We seem to lose them at Young Farmers' level and we need to make sure they understand Federated Farmers is not an old boys' group," she said.

"Once again, this is work in progress".

As well as her role as provincial president North Canterbury, Murchison is also the chairwoman of the North Canterbury Meat and Fibre sector.

The executive lineup at North Canterbury Federated Farmers is provincial senior vice-president and dairy spokesperson Vaughan Beazer; junior vice-president and Oxford dairy farmer Grant Evans; sharemilkers' chairman James Bourke; North Canterbury provincial support Lynda Donnelly; and North Canterbury field officer Pam Boland.

- The Timaru Herald

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