Story: Farmer and grower organisations
Organisations for farmers and other rural people provided social networks, a political voice, opportunities for sharing knowledge, and help in hard times. Some groups are for farmers of particular animals or crops, and there are others for rural women and young farmers.
Full story by Willie Smith and Steven Kelly
Main image: Cattle show certificate
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A & P associations
Agricultural and Pastoral (A & P) associations were set up from the 1840s. They had an important community and educational role, and organised yearly shows where people could get together, share information and learn about new farming techniques.
The Farmers’ Union, set up in 1899, helped to promote politicians who supported farming issues. The union joined with the New Zealand Sheepowners’ Federation in the 1940s, to become Federated Farmers. The group represents farmers from 24 regions, across industries such as dairying, meat and wool growing, and beekeeping. They lobby government on issues such as taxes, and laws affecting land, stock, and the environment.
There are many breed societies for breeders of sheep, cattle, deer and other farm animals. These define the breeds, provide judges for A & P shows, and arrange social and teaching events.
The horticultural industry has groups representing growers of different types of fruit or crop.
There are few organisations that represent Māori farmers. Tāhuri Whenua (National Māori Vegetable Growers Collective) researches and develops traditional crops, and Te Waka Kai Ora (Māori Organics Authority) promotes traditional, organic production methods.
The Country Women’s Institute began in New Zealand in 1922 to foster friendship and support among rural families. The Women’s Division was set up in 1925 by the wives of farmers attending a Federated Farmers’ Union conference. Their goal was to help women and children in rural New Zealand. One service they provided was organising home help for families in crisis.
The first groups to represent young farmers were the Young Farmers’ Federation and the Country Girls’ Club. In the 1970s these combined to become the Federation of Rural Youth. Renamed New Zealand Young Farmers, they organise the Young Farmer of the Year competition, which tests practical, business and social skills.