Taupō Beef was named the overall winner of the 2015 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards held in Auckland on 24 November for its vision to lead New Zealand beef farming while also protecting the water quality in Lake Taupō. As well as winning the Restorative Impact Award, Taupō Beef also won the ‘NZI Greatest Contribution to a Sustainable New Zealand’ (Supreme Award).
The standard New Zealand farm business model of increasing production in the face of rising costs, and flat commodity prices no longer applies in the Taupō area, due to the Waikato Council's introduction of nitrogen caps. Modelling showed that farmers would soon be insolvent when having to cap nitrogen leaching and hence livestock numbers.
Taupō Beef comes from three farms which are operating under New Zealand's toughest environmental standards aimed at protecting water quality in Lake Taupō. They have successfully converted their farming practice to protect the waterways and produce high quality beef that demands a premium price.
There is no doubt that unsustainable farming can have negative effects on waterways, however to place sole responsibility on farmers to solve the problem is not the answer. As this would either compromise farm business viability or lead to diluted water quality standards, Taupō Beef believes that to achieve higher water quality standards for our rivers and lakes we need consumers to be actively involved in the solution.
That solution comes in the form of Food, Farms and Freshwater (3F), set up by Natasha Garvan and Rhys Millar in collaboration with Taupō Beef’s Mike and Sharon Barton. The idea is to scale up the Taupō Beef model, to improve water quality of rivers and lakes all over New Zealand to a standard where they are fishable and swimmable within a couple of generations.
Subject to funding, which 3F is in the process of securing, the next phase will enable 3F to work with four pilot catchments around New Zealand to create an environmental standard and verification system for farmers to improve their environmental performance. This will be based on broadly and locally accepted catchment-specific science, which will credibly withstand consumer and competitor scrutiny.
While the 3F trials may take another two to three years, those of us wanted sustainably farmed beef and lamb are already able to purchase this throughout the country.
Selected Four square and New World stores
Whangarei, Putiputi Ra Organic Traders
Great Barrier Island, Stonewall Store
Ponsonby Central, Neat Meat
Te Atatu, Demolition Deli
Karaka, The Country Market
Oratia, Nola's Orchard
Mairangi Bay, Vegeland
Kumeu, Kumeu Fresh,
Grey Lynn, Farro Fresh
Mairangi Bay, Farro Fresh
Epsom, Farro Fresh
Lunn Ave, Farro Fresh
Pauanui, Pauanui Gas
Pauanui Super Value
Whangapoua Beach Store
Colville General Store
Tamahere, Country Providore
Mount Maunganui, Nosh
Havelock North, Bellatinos
Napier, Chantal Retail Shop
Moore Wilson’s Fresh