Farmers, vets, environmentalists and scientists on winter grazing taskforce

A picture from 2018, when Fish & Game NZ Southland went on a field trip looking at winter grazing and break feeding practices. - Photo: Fish & Game New Zealand

The members of the agriculture minister's new winter grazing taskforce have been announced.

Pictures taken by activists of livestock deep in mud, as part of a campaign calling for better winter crop grazing practices, prompted agriculture minister Damien O'Connor to launch a taskforce to look into the issue.

Amongst the 10 individuals appointed to the group are vets, industry leaders, farmers and the environmentalist Angus Robson of Waikato, who led last month's campaign.

The independent chairperson of the taskforce will be John Hellstrom.

Dr Hellstrom is a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit and was chief veterinary officer from 1986 to 1991 for the then Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, also Biosecurity Minister, Food Safety Minister, Rural Communities Minister, Trade and Export Growth Minister of State

Damien O'Connor. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Mr O'Connor said the group was expected to provide an initial report back to him by the end of this month and would work on a plan of action by the end of September.

"My expectation of this group is to do a stocktake of the multiple initiatives that are already underway to promote good winter grazing practices and identify why these are not currently working for all," he said.

"Then we need to come up with actions as to how we can get farmers where they should be."

The 10 members are:

  •   •  Independent Chairperson: Dr John Hellstrom, ONZM

  •   •  Dr Arnja Dale, Chief Scientific Adviser, SPCA

  •   •  Dr Helen Beattie, Chief Veterinary Officer, NZ Veterinary Association

  •   •  Dr Stephen Hopkinson, dairy cattle vet & NZ Veterinary Association

  •   •  Angus Robson, environment campaigner

  •   •  Dr Ross Monaghan, Senior Scientist, AgResearch

  •   •  Elaine Cook, Dairy NZ

  •   •  Dave Harrison, Beef+Lamb NZ

  •   •  Ewen Mathieson, dairy farmer, Southland

  •   •  Pania King, sheep & beef farmer, Gisborne

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