Representatives from around 40 family farming organisations and their associates gathered at Parliament today for a day-long Inaugural Forum to launch the UN International Year of Family Farming 2014. (The official UN launch at UN headquarters in New York was also on November 22.)
The event was organised by the National Co-ordinating Committee for IYFF-2014 in New Zealand, and hosted by two members of the Primary Production Select Committee, MPs Damien O'Connor and Steffan Browning.
The Convenor of the Co-ordinating Committee, Brendan Hoare, said that the day was very successful in bringing together a diverse range of people, who worked together well to identify the social, economic and environmental issues of greatest interest and concern to family farmers.
"The majority of farmers in New Zealand are family farmers," Mr Hoare said, "yet a theme of the day was that most of those who consume what they produce have little knowledge and understanding of the work of family farms, and the value they contribute to society and the economy."
"This knowledge deficit is something we will address through the year, with many farming organisations already planning events that will focus attention on family farming, and other collaborative activities now in the pipeline."
Through the day’s events the Co-ordinating Committee attained a better understanding of family farming needs, potential and constraints. Once articulated with the wider family farming endorsement it will develop policies conducive to sustainable family farming by encouraging government to establish the enabling environment (conducive policies, adequate legislation, participatory planning for a policy dialogue, investments) for the sustainable development of family farming.
"This is a perfect timing for NZ," Mr Hoare said, "because 2014 also coincides with an election in NZ. This will enable all political parties to take the identified policy issues of family farming seriously."