What does it mean to be a professional New Zealand farmer?

Edgar A. Burns, University of Waikato

Abstract: This article reprises the idea of ‘professional farmer’ as of central importance to the future of economic wellbeing and innovation for farmers, farming communities, New Zealand as a whole, and by implication any society. Using contemporary analysis of professionalism and how this continues to change, a mix of admiration and critique of current practices and encouragement for the sector to continue its professional development, will help engagement with today’s changing political, environmental and economic climate. Common contrasts made between government versus farmers, science experts versus farmers, and urban residents as ‘townies’ versus farmers are unhelpful hangovers from last century and the one before. Embracing elements of each is necessary for a present-day professionalism that is sustainable as a career and way of life across generations, meets the needs of the land, water and local environment, and for meeting the global questions of sustainability facing farming and society today.

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