A Southland man determined to change the perception of dairy farming

Southland Federated Farmers President Jason Herrick is running to serve on the National Board of Directors.

Kavinda Herath/Stuff

Southland Federated Farmers President Jason Herrick is running to serve on the National Board of Directors.

A Southlander hasn’t served on Federated Farmers’ national board since 2011 and farmer Jason Herrick is determined to change that.

Federated Farmers Sharemilker President Herrick will be running for a seat at the rural advocacy group’s top table.

“I’m running because I’d like to make a difference, not only at the provincial level, but also at the national level,” he said.

Herrick thought he had the ability to talk about difficult issues and do what was right, rather than what was easy.

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“The ability to make noise at the right level,” he said.

If elected, the top three priorities on Herrick’s list are jobs and immigration, fresh water and winter grazing.

Southland dairy farmers have been struggling with staff shortages, especially since borders closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s nationwide, the staff shortage, but Southland, in particular, has a huge staff shortage problem because we’re heavily reliant on migrant staff here,” he said.

Herrick himself has struggled over the past two and a half years with staffing shortages. Recently, he was finally able to recruit full staff to run the farm.

He stressed that it was really important to have a voice from the bottom of the South Island speaking on the national council, as Southland was a large area with many Federated Farmers members.

“At the moment Southland seems to have a lot of problems and a lot more of a future than what we see in other provinces of New Zealand right now.

“They don’t understand all the issues that people in the south are facing under the plan on water and land and so on,” he said.

According to Herrick, many council members hadn’t understood winter grazing very well, and not having that voice had been difficult for the farmers.

“Right now with winter grazing, a lot of farmers are dealing with consent farming.

“So putting regulations in place as an example where they have to ask for consent to do everything on the ground, is in my view unfeasible and unworkable.”

Herrick is also determined to change the perception of agriculture in the wider community as well.

Farmers in the agricultural sector had been portrayed as villains by government departments and the media, and he felt this deterred young Kiwis from joining the industry, Herrick said.

“Why would they want to join an industry that has so much negativity around it?” he said.

Herrick said he had the support of all of his Southland Federated Farmers leaders and most other people he spoke to, he said.

Southlander Don Nicholson was Chairman of the National Council in 2011.

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