Foreign ownership will be a hot topic at farmers' conference
Federated Farmers' national conference gets under way in Auckland today and the recent approval of Fonterra's controversial trading among farmers (TAF) scheme will no doubt be on high on the agenda.
Chief executive Conor English says the main panel discussions taking place over the next three days are on water, local government reform and foreign investment.
He says about 200 people will attend and they willl also be discussing Fonterra's TAF scheme, which must be put to a third vote after farmers approved the scheme but rejected the associated constitutional changes which would limit the scope of non-farmer investment.
Mr English has just returned from the Rio+20 earth summit in Brazil, where he says there was much talk about sustainable growth.
But New Zealand seems too timid to really embrace growth because of the possible backlash from environmentalists.
"There's concern about the number of dairy cows growing, and about possible mining activity, or exploration for oil and gas," he says.
"We say, 'no, we can't do this, the rest of the world's going to think we're bad.' But that's an incredibly outdated and naive view.
"We should be talking about harvesting our natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way."
Mr English says the mood among farmers is pretty good heading into the conference.
"The season has been good for growing grass, and that always gives farmers options, so in that sense everyone's had a pretty good season weather-wise.
"There's a little bit of apprehension about what's around the corner, but I think overall it'll be a positive meeting."
The conference, being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, doubles as Federated Farmers' AGM, where elections will be held for some board positions.