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Waikato Agriculture Summit discusses co-operation

The agricultural sector and Environment Waikato will need to work together closely on how farming in the region will be sustainable and remain the bedrock of the Waikato economy, says EW chairman Peter Buckley.

He was commenting after the second Waikato Agriculture Summit held at the Ferrybank in Hamilton yesterday, which involved a range of agencies and groups concerned with sustainability.

The summit looked at EW’s suggested five broad strategic directions for sustainable agriculture:

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

· Development of clear environmental targets for farmers

· The balancing of economic, environmental and community values

· Support for new farming systems

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

There was wide-ranging discussion about the sustainability issues facing farming in the region and possible responses to those issues.

Cr Buckley said: "We all have a strong joint commitment to getting things right so that farming continues to support a strong regional economy and a healthy environment."

EW staff will now work with the agriculture industry to develop sustainable agriculture strategic directions for the council.

Those strategic directions will then be used in the development of the planned review of the Waikato Regional Plan for 2012.

As the plan is developed, council and the agriculture industry will concurrently work together on options for how the farming sector can be involved in ensuring farming’s impacts meet the 2012 plan’s rules and targets.

AgSummit 2 was a follow up to the highly successful first Waikato Agriculture Summit late last year. The first summit was called after EW published its water and soil report which discussed the impact of intensified farming on regional waterways and soils. After the first summit, participants committed to working together on solutions.

"The council and the agricultural sector are taking joint ownership of the problems, the application of existing solutions and the development of new solutions," said Cr Buckley.

"Most of our farmers are already doing a good job of trying to limit the environmental impact of their operations. The discussions at the summit will help all of us do even better at striking the right balance between a healthy economy and a healthy environment."

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