Meat & Livestock News

Public Supports Farmers on Environmental Regulation

TL;DR: A recent survey shows strong public support for farmers regarding environmental regulations. While recognizing the need for practical rules, the public also desires progress. Beef + Lamb New Zealand advocates for balanced policies to ensure environmental stewardship without overburdening farmers, aligning with public opinion on sustainable practices.

Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide

The debate over the divide between urban and rural areas is ongoing. Recent work with Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) shows strong alignment between public perception of environmental regulation and the sector’s stance on what the Government should do.

Concerns and Regulations

B+LNZ has consistently raised concerns about the heavy administrative and financial burdens placed on farmers by one-size-fits-all environmental rules. Recent announcements by the new Government about changing some of these regulations have been welcomed.

Advocacy and Public Trust

My role in the B+LNZ team is to provide insights that support the sector’s advocacy. This helps the organisation push for enduring policy solutions that balance workability for farmers with reassurances to consumers, markets, and the public about good environmental stewardship. Public trust and confidence are crucial for our sector’s licence to operate. We want the public to share our pride in the sheep and beef sector.

Survey Insights

B+LNZ regularly commissions data and analytics experts, Kantar, to survey public perceptions of the red meat sector. In recent years, there has been an upward trend in New Zealand public pride in our sector. The public recognises the sector’s contribution to economic growth and jobs, as well as our global reputation.

New Questions on Environmental Management

Recently, we added new questions to the regular survey to gauge public perceptions of the need for environmental management rules and the amount of regulation farmers face. We aimed to understand whether the public sees farmers as responsible stewards of the land.

Public Perceptions

Farmers can be heartened by public perceptions of them as proactive participants in environmental management and as stewards with a long-term view. Kiwis see regulation as necessary, but they believe it should be practical and not jeopardise farmers’ livelihoods and rural communities.

Impact of Environmental Policies

Our report on the cumulative impact of environmental policies, released last year, showed that disjointed rules introduced by the previous Government would place immense financial pressure on farmers and hinder environmentally proactive efforts. It is encouraging to know the public doesn’t want this to happen. They want progress, but the rules need to be pragmatic.

Public Opinion on Regulation

Respondents were also asked about the amount of environmental regulation placed on farmers. Around 80 percent felt they had enough information to form an opinion on the amount of regulation farmers faced. This understanding was likely helped by recent media coverage.

Support for the Sector

Results showed public support for the sector’s view that environmental regulation has gone too far. Nearly 40 percent reported there was ‘too much’ or a little too much’ regulation, while only 22 percent said there was ‘almost enough’ or ‘not enough.’

Balancing Progress and Regulation

The responses indicate that the public supports some rollback of environmental rules, but they still want progress. As a sector, we need to remember the 22 percent who want more rules and the strong support for independent monitoring.

Policy Rollbacks and Environmental Progress

While the Government’s policy rollbacks are important to ensuring farmers have practical and enabling rules, our sector still needs to show environmental progress and keep the public on our side. Any policy changes that create the perception of avoiding environmental responsibility could shift public support towards more government intervention.

The public support in this survey is encouraging for those engaging with and representing farmers and rural communities. It shows that we are not alone in seeking policy changes. Together, we can work towards practical and effective environmental regulations that benefit both farmers and the environment.