Change has been a constant feature of Northland's primary sector industry for, well, ever really. Farmers have needed to be able to deal with change, be resilient, innovative, adaptive and resourceful - indeed change is arguably a critical part of a Northland farmers' DNA.
However, the pace, the magnitude and the scope of change is only expected to increase and it would seem there's no rest in sight. The nature of this change also appears different, with increasing regulatory and legislative expectation driven by wider market and societal changes, and industry and central government's response to this.
So where does the region's primary sector go, what are the changes that face it, how does it change, and what are the implications and opportunities for farmers, the region, and the sector?
As evidenced over the past year, the primary sector's contribution is a key player in Northland's economic resilience and prosperity.
A key question that continues to resonate for farmers, the primary sector, and the region is - how do we respond to this change in a manner that's environmentally, economically and socially sustainable, in a way that values people, improves the environment and is economically viable?
Overall, primary industries contribute significantly to Northland's economy, and alongside tourism and manufacturing, they have historically been one of the region's top three contributors.
Part of the current response has been the involvement of Northland Inc, the regional economic development agency, in the leadership of Extension 350 (E350), Kaipara Kai, alternative pasture/diversified forages, the Kaipara and Mid North water storage projects, and the work at Ngawha Innovation Park.
In particular, E350 has been a leading initiative developing and championing farmer change at scale and pace across the region. The project is focused on achieving individual farmer goals through the lens of improving profitability, improving environmental sustainability and improving farmer well-being.
It utilises farmer-to-farmer learning and fosters collaboration across central and local government, industry and the farmers themselves. It is a project that is robustly evaluated externally to capture and share the lessons learnt both locally and across the sector.
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For Northland farmers, the industry and the region, opportunities will exist amid continuing change, and a pertinent challenge for those in leadership is to help in guiding the direction of the response.
Strategy, programme and project development, research and development extension, demonstration and design are all urgently needed. Work that fosters collaboration between central and local government, industry, and farmers in a coherent, linked-up manner is vital.
Change is coming down the tracks like a freight train, at a pace and scale that is likely to shape the nature of Northland's primary sector for generations to come.
While there is undoubtedly challenge and uncertainty in this, there is also opportunity and Northland farmers have long proven themselves to be adept, resilient and able to change.
• Luke Beehre is project lead of Northland Inc's Extension 350 programme, and a Hukerenui dairy farmer.