Farming advocacy group AgProud hopes to unify rural and urban communities at the Wānaka A&P Show this week.
AgProud’s co-founder and chairman, Southland dairy farmer Jon Pemberton, created the charitable trust in 2009 to strengthen relationships between urban and rural New Zealanders and increase awareness of mental health in Kiwi farming communities.
“One of our core values as a trust is to strengthen the relationship between the urban and rural sectors,” Pemberton said.
“Over the past decade there has undoubtedly been a strain on that relationship for various reasons; cities are growing, the rural sector is shrinking, and there’s also social media where everyone has an unqualified opinion.
“But part of the problem has also been that the rural sector has been pretty average at telling its story. We are here to change that, and what better way to tell our story than at the show.”
Pemberton invites members of the public to visit and chat with him and fellow AgProud trustees Jason Checketts, John Douglas and Jason Herrick at their stand in the Rabobank tent anytime during the show.
He said no topic is off-limits.
“We want to have a yarn with people and instil confidence in the general public about the agriculture industry. We want people to understand where their milk and bread comes from and change some perceptions that are out there,” Pemberton said.
“We also want to be approachable for farmers. Our farmers can be an easy target for negativity at times, and when you put that on top of long working hours, financial pressures and other stresses of rural life, it can take its toll.”