Resilient farmers for the future

Sheep and beef farming in New Zealand’s hill country is subject to multiple pressures.  These include increasing competition by forestry, more stringent environmental regulation, direct and indirect impacts of climate change, changing societal expectations, and new market requirements. 

Given these numerous pressures, increasing the resilience of farmers to expected and unexpected events is key to future proofing them and their farms. We need to know how to measure resilience in hill country farming and how to monitor if progress is being made towards the goal of “future proofing”.


To help achieve these goals, the ‘Resilient Farmer’ component of HCF had several aims:

  • Determine a shared vision for the future of hill country farming based on key challenges and opportunities facing farmers and other stakeholders.
  • Use this information to develop a resource package that can be used to measure and monitor farmer resilience and guide conversations about well-being and decision-making.
  • Showcase to New Zealanders, including the consumer, how farmers are demonstrating continual improvement for the environment, livestock, and communities. 

What we achieved

We listened and talked to almost 300 people, primarily sheep and beef farmers. We wanted to know what is happening in hill country farming, what matters most to them and what their vision is for the future.

After we evaluated and analysed all the conversations had over cups of tea, we identified the key issues for our farmers. This work became known as the Farmer Perspective Series.

Designed a resource package with our farmers to support resilience. We identified a need for resources that enable rural professionals to support individual farmers’ well-being.

This resulted in the development of an evaluation resource for farm system resilience that focuses on the health and well-being of the farmers themselves. This resource, named after the Roman Goddess of wellbeing and safety, is known as FarmSalus.

Helped champion our farmers by telling their stories. Hill country farmers are vital for both food production and preserving the iconic hill country landscapes. Recognising their importance is crucial and celebrating those farmers who are actively improving environmental, livestock, and community aspects on their farms.

To achieve this, a series of farmer stories were developed for a broader audience and were promoted through mainstream media.

Lead researchers:

Dr Katherine Dixon (Nature Positive)

Ange McFetridge (B+LNZ)