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Published: 2009-10-15 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has called a second Waikato Agriculture Summit so that farmer representatives, the agriculture industry and the council can do further joint work on the development of sustainable agriculture in the region.

AgSummit 2 on Thursday 22 October in Hamilton is a follow up to the highly successful first Waikato Agriculture Summit late last year where participants, including Fonterra and Waikato Federated Farmers representatives, committed to working together on solutions.

Last year’s summit was called after EW published its water and soil report which discussed the impact of intensified farming on regional waterways and soils.

Since the first summit, Environment Waikato has – in co-operation with industry partners – been doing an extensive amount of work on better defining the sustainability issues facing farming, and looking at ways for farming to be more sustainable.

"At AgSummit 2, we will be discussing the results of that work and looking at what we can collectively do together from here. There will be workshop sessions where participants will be asked to contribute their ideas," said EW chairman Peter Buckley, himself a dairy farmer.

EW has asked summit participants to consider five strategic directions for sustainable agriculture:

· The formation of enduring partnerships between EW and primary industry stakeholders

· Development of clear environmental objectives for farmers

· The balancing of economic, environmental and community values

· Developing policies to support new farming systems

· Acknowledgement of existing farmer efforts to protect the environment and support for them to do more

"We are very keen to hear further from the industry and other agencies about their response to these suggestions. Their thoughts will help EW finalise its contribution to sustainable agriculture in the region."

Cr Buckley said he believed most of the region’s farmers were doing a good job of trying to limit the environmental impact of their operations. "AgSummit 2 - and ongoing sustainability work by a range of agencies - is aimed at exploiting, in a focused way, opportunities for smarter management of agriculture’s environmental impact.

"There’s no short-term, catch-all fix available to this. We need to work together. It’s only by sustained and targeted, long-term collective effort that we will make a difference.

"We want the farming-based Waikato economy to remain very healthy at the same time as ensuring a healthy environment."

Note to editors: The summit will not be open to media to help ensure free and frank discussion at the summit’s workshops. However, Cr Buckley will be available for interview afterwards and a media statement on the outcome of the summit is also planned.