Forum gives farmers chance to plan for sustainable future

TERRI RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012

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A dairy industry "roadmap" will be developed from recommendations made by award-winning dairy farmers yesterday which wrapped up a three-day forum in Invercargill.

The Building Environmental Leaders Network Forum kickstarted early this week with about 50 farmers from throughout New Zealand coming to share their experiences and move sustainable dairying forward.

The forum yesterday shifted from being a commentary based event to a series of practical workshops for farmers to put their ideas to paper.

Participants looked at how to ensure the bottom 10 per cent of farmers could make progress towards compliance, as well as how important goals could be met by 2020.

Some compliance recommendations included having straight-forward guidelines that were easy to understand and associating a certain level of prestige with farmers that were "tagged" as 100 per cent compliant.

Riverton sheep farmers Vaughan and Megan Templeton talked about how they raised their profile as sustainable farmers and how others could do the same.

"If you are going to talk the talk, you have got to walk the walk. I've got faith in you, you're really innovative people," Mr Templeton said. Self-reporting on environmental issues such as effluent spills was very important, he said.

The pair had had two effluent spills on their property, reported the issues immediately to Environment Southland and followed the authority's advice.

"We don't accept slight problems. Mistakes happen, it's how we deal with them," Mr Templeton said.

Forum chair Martin Bennett wrapped up the forum at noon, saying the workshops had been a "milestone" because council or "townies" were not blamed as they had been in previous years, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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