Mon 4 Feb 19.
Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron, Council Chief Executive Clive Manley and Economic Development Manager Warren Furner have met with representatives from the farming community to talk about the issues facing the rural sector and to share ideas on how to confront collective challenges.
The rural sector was represented by Ruapehu Federated Farmers Provincial Meat and Wool Chair Nick Street, Taumarunui Sustainable Land Management Group Facilitator Dick Lancaster and farming consultant Geoff Burton.
Mayor Cameron said that although tourism may have got a lot of the headlines recently it was always recognised that farming and agriculture would continue to be a bedrock of Ruapehu’s economy.
“The feedback and information we receive from meetings like this is invaluable in informing Council’s ability to advocate on rural concerns including with government to help ensure Policy decisions do not have unintended consequences,” said Mayor Cameron.
“The meeting highlighted that both Council and the rural sector are on the same page when it comes to the big issues and where we collectively want the district to go.
Significantly we both recognise the importance of developing community sustainability and resilience through building a strong, viable, diversified economic base and social connections,” he said.
Mr Burton said it was important for both Council and the rural sector to collectively look into the future and ask ourselves “if we do this now what will it mean for our towns and rural communities in 20 to 30 years time?”
“While we don’t have a crystal ball we can take lessons from the past and try to think strategically and not create a rod for our own backs in the future,” he said.
“A good example of this is while we both support the ability for selective tree planting by land owners on unproductive land we believe that large scale forestry can be detrimental to local farming and communities.”
Mr Lancaster added that we need to protect our good productive land from inappropriate use and ensure that any significant long term land use change must deliver long term benefits to our local communities.
Likewise we need to look for opportunities to process and add value to our local primary production locally before it leaves the region.”
Other issues discussed included the importance of infrastructure investment in ensuring the viability and sustainability of rural communities notably in land transport and broadband and cellular services.
Mr Street noted that these are needed not only for traditional farming activities but in providing opportunities to develop more diversified income streams such as from farm tourism which is seen as increasingly important.
“Township revitalisation was also seen as important with vibrant, attractive townships being a critical factor in attracting and retaining people including as an appeal to younger farmers and their partners,” he said.
Mayor Cameron added that Ruapehu farmers shared Council’s aspirations for Ruapehu’s future and were committed to working to help achieve a future that provided benefits and opportunities for all our communities.
“We have agreed to meet every six months as part of ensuring we remain on the same page as we work to make this a reality.”