Environmental sustainability

Research reveals farmers are actively implementing sustainability practices

Research reveals farmers are actively implementing sustainability practices
<p><b>Research from ASB reveals some interesting insights into how farmers are dealing with environmental sustainability. According to the research, 20 percent of New Zealand farmers cite climate change as a major issue that they will need to deal with. However nearly 80 percent are considering implementing sustainability practices, and two-thirds are actively taking steps to mitigate it. ASB’s GM Rural, Ben Speedy, spoke to REX Today’s Dominic George about the research findings and what environmental sustainability practices mean for rural lending.</b></p> <p><b>Listen to the full interview below:</b></p>
<p>The research found that of the food and fibre producers interviewed, 73 percent outlined concerns around government regulation, up from 65 percent the year prior. According to Speedy, this comes predominantly from the magnitude and pace of new regulatory requirements, with many citing government regulation as more of a concern than climate change itself.&nbsp; “Many climate change elements are well understood and contained, especially regarding the great work that He Waka Eke Noa are doing and their engagement with industry and Māori and the Government around how we move agriculture into an alternative emissions trading scheme. Where there's still a lot of concern from farmers is just before regulation. We’re currently working through new national policy statements, and fresh water guidelines, there's a welfare code for dairy cattle that people are required to provide feedback on by 30th of June. What is further adding to those complexities is that some of these elements are nationally driven, some are regionally driven, and some are locally driven. It’s hard to get in front of exactly what's required to continue to farm and how farmers need to think about all of those things and what they're going to mean for their farming business.”</p> <p>When it comes to emerging risks associated with environmental sustainability, Speedy believes that lending and capital will continue to be tied to reducing carbon emissions, with requirements for banks to report on the emissions that come from customers who they finance. “We need to ensure that we're supporting He Waka Eke Noa and thinking about how we continue to get more funds into the industry to help reduce our emissions. While we can be confident about achieving our 10 percent reduction in carbon by 2030, there's no clear glide path as to how we achieve our 24 - 47 percent reduction come 2050. It's just so important that all of our farmers understand our numbers, but then secondly, we need to get in behind industry to ensure that we're putting the appropriate amount of research and development and science behind solving this problem for us.“</p> <p>Farmers also need to know what's required of them and how they can improve their environmental footprint. “In excess of 50 percent of our customers already have a farm environmental plan. The next stage is thinking about an emissions reduction plan. And importantly for our customers, how do they do that appropriately without having drastic impacts on their business, whether that’s from a financial perspective or from an overall business sustainability point of view. 80 percent of our customers are implementing on-farm changes as it relates to the environment or climate change. The most common initiative that people are doing is planting trees and fixing waterways, but what was probably most interesting out of the research is actually the wide range of initiatives that farmers are implementing and trialling, in order to better understand what impact, they have. It ranges from breeding more productive animals to selecting methane friendly stock to trialling seaweed. There’s always been a bit of a chatter around regen farming and diversification too. But it's exciting to see that many of our customers and more broadly, food and fibre producers in New Zealand, trying these things and considering how they can keep their businesses moving forward.”</p>
<p>ASB and REX are running a four-part webinar series focussed on sustainability, whether that’s business, environmental, or financial, and diversification, hosted by Rural Exchange’s Hamish McKay. Register for the webinars <a href="https://au.eventscloud.com/website/1734/" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>