sign up log in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Opinion: Peter Kerr thinks we should recognise NZ's contribution to rotational pastoral farming, own it and promote it to consumers who value sustainable farming systems. Your view?

Rural News
Opinion: Peter Kerr thinks we should recognise NZ's contribution to rotational pastoral farming, own it and promote it to consumers who value sustainable farming systems. Your view?

By Peter Kerr*

So, tell me why we shouldn’t be global custodians of responsible pastoralism?

The purpose of this discussion is to debate whether New Zealand Inc should become global custodians of responsible pastoralism.

Let us test the hypothesis that we have a golden opportunity to profitably unite around a common story and the reality embodied in our pastoral method.

To own the story I contend, first we must name it.

Instead however of debating what the name should be, a brand/name is proffered, and as shorthand for our entire story, an argument will be presented as to why we should go down this path. Hence, pasture Harmonies – a descriptor, a promise.

As with any hypothesis, any and all contentions are up for debate. The next few months is an opportunity to discuss this, and perhaps set up an ownership structure on behalf of NZ Inc.

pasture Harmonies (pH) can exist because of three major factors.

1. The consumer currently has no way to have a ‘relationship’ with products from a pastoral origin, and just as importantly, the people who produce it

2. There is no name, much like an ‘Intel Inside’ for example, for products that have a pasture-based start

3. New Zealand has both the mandate and chance to stake a claim as global custodians of responsible pastoralism

The question is whether we can be brave enough to seize the opportunity – and completely reframe our offer to the world.

My contention is that by naming our story we will also provide ourselves with a strategic platform to escape the commodity spiral of death, and sell the knowledge alongside the agritech products we currently market.

To capture the opportunity inherent in the fact there’s an unclaimed global market position will take a change in our mindset however.

It would require that we collaborate – though given that there is probably a more money for us, as NZ Inc, to make from putting ourselves up as global custodians of responsible pastoralism – that could take care of itself.

Admittedly, we need to test the proposition.

But pasture Harmonies can act as a co-brand, through being an umbrella name/story, or in its case an underlying or bedrock truth that helps justify a meat, wool, milk or other product’s market price premium.

However, the major psychological change we’d have to make is realise, utterly, that we are selling much much more than a piece of meat or a milk product (if our dairy produce manages to be branded in front of a consumer!)

We have the opportunity to sell an ideal.

We can sell and have a consumer-oriented relationship that’s based on a romance + reassurance (which is the fantastic science behind our offer).

No New Zealand company can do this alone. Only together can we punch above our weight.

Or can we – perhaps we’re doomed to always looking in the rear view mirror?

What do you think?


Peter Kerr is a writer, specialising in simplifying science and technology. He has an agricultural science and industry background. You can contact him here »

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Hi Peter

That's a damn good idea of how we can differentiate our products. All we need to do is to generate some excitement around the concept by involving industry bodies, Fed Farmers and some major exporters to see whether the idea has legs and, if so, decide how to set it running.

I'm less convinced by your brand name, but that could evolve with discussion and debate.

I'm happy to support it to see if the primary sector agrees on a course of action.

Allan Barber


Good idea, with the caveat that there has to be substance to back the hype.


Defining responsible pastoralism mught be the sticking point.


Good idea, lets get on with it. Actually I think a lot of the meat companies have logos and pics on their wrapping that shows paddocks and pastures and the like. We need more of it.



I agree, it reaffirms what our natural strengths are, and we should play to them. I see pasture based farming as a convoluted way of exporting water so long as it's relatively sustainable given current knowledge. Notwithstanding climate change and industrial pollution (ag included) it's a renewable resource that's Iincreasingly scarce in other parts of the world, and that we could use to our (NZs) benefit. Bit confused and concerned at Prof Gows US influenced free market vision though.