King Country farmer Martin Coup believes it's time New Zealand red meat producers started capitalising on growing international demand for naturally raised, sustainably grown food.

Mr Coup has put his name forward for this month's Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) board election. With wife Wendy, he farms a 700-hectare sheep and beef property at Aria.

He says farmers need a better, more profitable future and the opportunity to provide that is right here already. B+LNZ has initiated a major project developing the "New Zealand Red Meat Story". Mr Coup supports this approach and wants to see farmers brought on board as soon as possible.

"Most farmers already take utmost care of their land, animals and the environment, but we need to up our game even further."

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"New Zealand farmers can produce quality protein from pastoral systems better than anyone in the world. I want to ensure farmers have the knowledge and skills to do what is right for their land, their animals, their business and the environment.

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That way, we can produce a product that is sought after by consumers wanting food that is grown as nature intended.

"Most farmers already take utmost care of their land, animals and the environment, but we need to up our game even further. We must refine our approach to farming, to fully support the New Zealand Red Meat Story — so the story is as inspiring, robust and genuine as possible."

Supporting farmers in their efforts, Mr Coup would like to see B+LNZ invest in a strong research programme focused on future production and technology opportunities.

"As a passionate farmer, who knows how hard we work and how much care we take, I'm not scared to have the difficult conversations — and to push back, when we need to. We need quality engagement and that can only come with robust discussion."

Mr Coup says one of the big challenges is the public perception of how farmers interact with the environment. "Through my work with the King Country River Care and Farmers for Positive Change — as well as what I practise on my own farm — I know there is a lot of great work being done by farmers. It's important those positive stories are told."

Mr Coup is a farmer representative on the Red Meat Profit Partnership Advisory Group and Mid-Northern Farmer Council. He was national chairman of the B+LNZ Farmer Council and Innovation Farm Advisory Group and served three years as a director on the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand.

"I am progressive and motivated and want to make a difference for New Zealand farmers. At my age and stage of farming, I have the time, energy and appropriate skill set to represent farmers in our region and would relish the opportunity to give something back to my sector."¦