On Wednesday the HB Regional Council formally joined the Ballance Farm Environmental Awards program, joining many other regions who participate.

Councillors von Dadelszen, Dick and (especially) Kirton voted against the program for various reasons, but mainly with concern that getting in bed on a farming best practices awards program with Ballance, a big promoter of chemical fertilisers, would send a message contrary to the HBRC’s sustainable land use orientation (have you all noticed that orientation?).

BayBuzz, on the other hand, thinks this awards program is a good idea, as we explained previously here, precisely because they do reward sustainable farming practices (and Ballance isn’t involved in the judging).

Ironically, on the same day that some Councillors were fretting over the potentially confusing signal sent by aligning with fertiliser-hawking Ballance, and potential damage to the HBRC brand, the Green Party was announcing its new “Good Farm Stories” program designed to celebrate the reality that indeed there are “green” farmers in New Zealand. This is a great idea for the Greens.

Said the Green Party’s Jeanette Fitzsimons: “I think it is time New Zealanders heard more about the Good Farms Stories happening in their countryside – too often the focus gravitates to the issues of conflict, pollution or bad farming practice. But for every Crafar farm disaster there’s ten good farmers doing good stuff and I’m keen to highlight their stories, their experiences and their contribution to keeping New Zealand clean and green.”

Have you picked yourself up off the floor yet, Councillor McGregor?!

But here’s the real irony.

The “preview” example given of a dairy farm near Hamilton includes this passage:

“A key milestone [for the farm] was entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards in 2004. While they didn’t win the main farm award, they won the restoration award. Andrew says they learned a lot, and shortly after were given the 2007 Green Ribbon rural sustainability award, by the Minister for the Environment.”

If the Greens aren’t nervous about the Ballance Awards, they ought to be safe enough for the Regional Council.

Actually, that’s a pretty conservative move. If the Regional Council really wants to”risk” its brand image, it might try aligning with the Green Party’s “Good Farm Stories” program!

Tom Belford

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3 Comments

  1. Maybe, after reading this post by Tom, the regional councillors may want to change thei votes on the balance award? Or at least be torn between their support for it and their non-support of the Greens.

  2. Congratulations to John and Vicki Bostock, Bruce Wills,and

    Greg and Rachel Hart who are on Jeanette Fitzsimons 'good farms' list in Hawke's Bay.

    (see http://www.greens.org.nz/goodfarmstories/list)
    Bruce is a Federated Farmers spokesman and a past winner of local environment awards, and the Harts and Bostocks are well known for their committment to sustainable practices.

    Good role models are priceless!

  3. Far be it for me to come out with any caustic commentary about this … Liz, the greens have never been 'whiz kids' and have 'traditionally' been prone to the poorly researched emotional statement … global warming being one such, sustainable practice another.

    Definitions can probably be important.

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