Compliance and regulation are the two words that make many farmers roll their eyes. The shed-load of rules and regulations to be aware of and act in accordance with are vast and cover aspects such as staff recruitment and employment, health and safety, animal welfare, water and effluent management and more recently, greenhouse gasses.
Many land owners, lessors or managers feel there is more “red tape” attached to farming nowadays which causes a large amount of confusion and general uncertainty around long term production, productivity and profit (Soper, 2019; Stretton 2019). Farming is a multi-facet job with physical and academic requirements, the sheer level of knowledge required to farm at a high level is astounding.
We can be the champion of farm compliance enhancing our competitive advantage and cementing our brand on the world stage. Nutrient management has been the first mover when it comes to recording on farm practices and mitigation, however, there are many more facets to farm compliance and long term success for our agricultural nation. Encompassing all facets of a farm management system while connecting a specific business to a value chain has significant benefits with transparency and traceability. When it comes to market access, compliance can be a powerful tool in terms of retaining our social licence to operate.
“In the future, imagine compliance being easy, valuable, and simply part of everyone’s mindset. The benefits for our loyal and esteemed customers widely recognized and synonymous with brand New Zealand. Farmers leading the regulatory discussion, fulfilling market requirements and supporting economic, social and environmental sustainability for our entire country”.
In twenty years’ time New Zealand will be a markedly different place. It may still be rich in natural resources, but as a society, we will probably be using these resources in very different ways. Our demographics, population and economy will all have changed markedly. We will continue to face complex issues and trade-offs between conservation of our natural environment and using our natural resources to support our society’s health, well-being and economy.
The focus of this study is on understanding the current compliance challenge for farmers in New Zealand and looking out to the future of farm compliance. The appetite and ambition for a change in compliance is among us as we look to a more holistic view of sustainability and what it means for our future production systems.