Sheep, beef and deer farmers now have the opportunity to prove their sustainability credentials with the launch of a new quality assurance standard.
New Zealand Farm Assurance Plus (NZFAP Plus), which builds on the existing New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP), includes a focus on people, farm, natural resources and biodiversity.
Nick Beeby, chair of New Zealand Farm Assurance Inc, says NZFAP Plus is the culmination of three years of work in response to expectations from customers, consumers and government.
“NZFAP Plus is about demonstrating and communicating to New Zealand and an international audience that the New Zealand red meat and wool sectors are farming sustainably and ethically.
“It is a platform to create more sustainable and prosperous farming businesses by understanding resources and supporting continuous improvement through the adoption of appropriate practices.
“NZFAP Plus was initially developed by the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), a Primary Growth Partnership programme involving the Ministry for Primary Industries, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, six meat processors and two major banks.
“Meat processing companies have worked collaboratively to build a programme that will ensure New Zealand farmers retain their domestic social licence to operate and market access globally by demonstrating environmental custodianship.”
Megan Mounsey-Smith, NZFAI General Manager, says the programme has been piloted with 30 farmers and feedback has been positive.
“Many of those in the pilot were already doing some or most of the work and it was simply a matter of recording and providing evidence to support their management practices.
“While NZFAP Plus aligns with some new regulations, it does not replace or supersede regulations. The new programme is an entirely voluntary standard that has been developed to support access to markets internationally. It is very much market-driven with consumers increasingly wanting to know where their food is coming from and how it is being produced. NZFAP Plus helps address these concerns.
“We encourage those farmers interested in finding out more about NZFAP Plus to get in touch with their meat or wool processing company.”
Southland sheep and beef farmer Jason Miller, who was involved in the NZFAP Plus pilot, says the programme aligns with the future direction of travel for the sector.
“NZFAP Plus delivers you a template that provides a robust quantitative approach, combined with high levels of integrity, to deliver highly sustainable farming systems.”
The programme is aligned with Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s Farm Plan to avoid duplication and provides tools and resources to support farmers in working towards meeting the standards.
To take part in the programme, farmers need to have completed NZFAP, the foundation programme. They can then apply to become a member of NZFAP Plus and will carry out an initial self-assessment to determine what aspects of their business they need to work on. They then have up to three years to meet the required standards and be audited by an AsureQuality independent auditor.
The cost of the certification audit is covered by NZFAI member companies with whom farmers have a relationship.
A comprehensive handbook has been developed to support farmers as they work towards their NZFAP Plus certification, along with a number of other tools and resources. The NZFAP Plus Standard and Handbook can be found on the www.nzfap.com website.
NZFAI is an incorporated society that is a collaboration of 16 meat processing companies, 23 wool companies, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and Deer Industry New Zealand.