TBfree Committees seeking Young Farmers
OSPRI’s TBfree committees are on the look-out for the next generation of farmers to help assist with the national TBfree programme says Clinton Young Farmer Emma Sutherland.
“If you want to make a difference towards reducing cattle disease and be proactive with on-farm biosecurity, joining your local TBfree committee is a great place to start.
“You can find out what other farmers in the community are doing about managing their TBfree and NAIT obligations. In the event of a disease outbreak, communication is vital and farmers learn best from other farmers, so that’s what the committee is about,” Emma said.
A mother of two, Emma has been farming for 14 years with her husband. They currently farm sheep and beef on a 2000 hectare property in the Clinton area.
“I first got interested in the TBfree programme a few years back when farming on the other side of Catlins Bush Forest. Our grazing block was in a TB Movement Control Area [MCA] and our stock needed TB test clearance.
Emma thereafter became aware of an available role on the local Southland TBfree committee and hasn’t looked back since. The drive to recruit new, younger members is a particular focus.
“I enjoy my role, as I’m learning new skills and getting out there to inform farmers of the importance of TBfree management. The M.Bovis situation has obviously generated more interest especially around NAIT and animal movement.”
Another factor is increasing uptake of on-farm technology amongst the younger generation of farmers.
“The majority of young farmers are tech savvy, they are likely to be using the NAIT app and connecting through social media. As a result, they are more familiar with the TBfree programme and their obligations.
While this development was building greater awareness and engagement around the long-term goal of TB eradication, it was vital younger farmers came forward and joined a TBfree committee.
“The reality is most of our Committees nationwide are run by older farmer volunteers. We need the next generation coming through to keep the momentum going and to make sure we do eradicate bovine TB,” Emma said.
OSPRI’s TBfree programme aims to eradicate bovine TB from New Zealand by 2055, with key milestones of TB eradication from cattle and deer by 2026 and from possums by 2040.