I spent a few days at the mecca of New Zealand's primary industries last week - Mystery Creek Fieldays. This is the time of year to showcase what we do.
Fieldays is as much a celebration of our world leading agri sector as it is an opportunity to showcase that to not just New Zealand but the rest of the world. With 300 international visitors registered from 37 different countries including international exhibitors it was a prime opportunity to rub shoulders with industry practitioners and leaders - and I was proud to see Federated Farmers smack bang in the middle of the agri mecca.
There was a raft of innovation, technology and opportunity available, which highlighted to me how advanced we are with existing solutions to farm smarter in New Zealand.
It is why Fieldays attracted such a large number of international visitors. We are looked to as industry leaders, and the opportunities to help other nations increase, and improve, their productivity is ours for the taking.
There were 900 New Zealand companies exhibiting, so it was a huge opportunity for farming support businesses to promote and sell their products and advances in technology to farmers. Equally so, farmers were able to learn about the most up-to-date technology to make their farming lives easier, safer, more compliant, and cost efficient. I myself bought a new generator for my dairy shed.
For the next power cut, I won't be losing out on production or relying on my neighbour's generator. I was also able to look at the latest in effluent irrigators, and was blown away by the innovation to support farmer's environmental practices.
Industry networking is important in the advocacy work the federation does, and there is no better place than Fieldays to do some networking. I met some familiar and not so familiar faces, and spoke to some regional councillors, who have consequently asked me to speak at a couple of their policy meetings. These opportunities to present the farming communities point of view don't fall into your lap every day, so the days spent at Mystery Creek were certainly valuable.
Fieldays are also important for Federated Farmers in terms of promoting the work they do to achieve workable outcomes for our members. We signed 12 new members and around 40 contracts and agreements, which all goes toward us being able to make farming less of a headache for you.
We had a good meeting with DairyNZ's key policy staff on employment law and the way forward with the changes to the minimum wage. Willy Leferink and I caught up with our sponsors from Ravensdown and had an interesting chat about their new technology in precision fertiliser applications.
As most topics do, it slipped into an environmental one, with Ravensdown noticing a drop off in fertiliser sales due to nutrient concerns. Amazing how changes to farming regulation drip feed into the community.
Our policy advisor and I also had a fascinating chat with Waikato Regional Council's chief executive, where we discussed the Waikato Waipa Stakeholders Group and where we think it should head. It is always nice to be able to have a candid chat with stakeholders, away from the roundtable and for an industry that lives in isolation, it is no surprise that days like these draw everyone out of the woodwork; even the Prime Minister paid us a visit!
It's not easy to get farmers off the farm. However, with the mecca of the primary industries on for only four days of the year, you would be hard pressed to stop them, with or without rain!
* Chris Lewis is Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.