West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor is pushing for organics to be part of a high value farming strategy in Golden Bay. The MP, who is also Labour’s spokesperson for primary industries, biosecurity and food safety, brought together a group of around 50 farming, business and community leaders in early December to talk about the ‘Future of farming in Golden Bay’.
Dairy is the biggest agricultural revenue earner in the area, with horticulture, aquaculture, fishing, wine and tourism also important industries. Damien says he is hopeful by bringing representatives from different sectors together, and discussing possible options, Golden Bay could look at becoming a producer of higher quality food - meaning more jobs and better profits for farmers.
“One of the proposals was as a region we could commit to higher quality soils that produce high quality produce, and organics is part of that,” Damien says.
Damien says the meeting was attended by “passionate Golden Bay residents and businesses”, including small and larger-scale food producers, farmers, retailers, and transport operators.
“People understood the concept of moving to a high value proposition for everything we produce, but they recognise you can’t do that overnight. We are keen to find out how we can progress this next year.”
OANZ CEO Brendan Hoare, who attended the meeting at the Mussel Inn in Golden Bay, says it was a chance to share and to explore some fresh ideas for adding value in the farming community, including the opportunities and challenges of organics.
“We applaud Damien O’Connor for his proactive stance on future farming and a focus on organics. We recognise that OANZ needs to position itself across all parties and building a relationship with Labour’s Primary Industries spokesman is part of that.”