More and more Hastings residents are getting behind a campaign to keep Hastings GMO Free as the fundraising drive hits $40,000.
Lots of people have donated money and given sites for signage as the campaign picks up momentum.
Pure Hawke’s Bay Member and Pastoral Farmer Will MacFarlane says it’s heart warming to see the overwhelming support and passion from Hastings residents to keep their region GMO Free.
"In less than a month we have built some strong support, but we have a long way to go to raise the $150,000 needed to legally fight to keep our region GMO Free."
This weekend the campaign team spent hours banging up billboards around the city.
"We spent the weekend putting up signs around the city and received a really positive response in Hastings. As we are getting the message out there, people are recognising that it’s important to support the fight to keep Hastings GM Free. Hastings people understand that preserving our GM free status will benefit everyone, not just food producers.
Last year, backed by leading Hawke’s Bay food producers, Hastings District Council became the first in New Zealand to secure the territory’s GM Free food producer status under the local plan. While this initiative enjoys overall support from producers and the wider community, Federated Farmers is challenging the Hastings decision in the Environment Court, despite many pastoral farmers, objecting to this move.
Mr MacFarlane has an Angus Bull Stud and says the economic opportunity is significant.
"All business is based on trust and we have to play to our strengths. We have a huge advantage in Hastings because we can now officially say we are GMO Free thanks to the Hastings District Council decision. This adds a lot of value to our products overseas."
Mr MacFarlane supplies Waitrose and says one of the fundamental requirements when he exports meat is being GMO Free.
"Waitrose has GMO Free requirements and we must meet them. We can only get our products into Waitrose if we’re GMO Free so to get certification is big for us.
"As a farmer it’s our point of difference in a very competitive market. We can stand proud and assure consumers that we are breeding and growing our animals naturally in a pure environment."
Mr MacFarlane along with over 100 other growers, pastoral farmers and exporters are on a mission to drum up support to protect the regions high value food exports.
Pure Hawke’s Bay will be backing Hastings District Council in the Environment court and has started a significant fundraising drive to raise the $150,000 needed to put forward a winning legal case.
"The response has been great and we are very humbled by the generosity of the Hawke’s Bay community who believe in a GMO Free region. But we have a long way to go and we are encouraging the people of Hastings to get in behind us."
"We are confident we can secure Hastings’ valuable GM Free status in law, but wider financial support is crucial to building a strong case to win this legal battle."
Mr MacFarlane says Pure Hawke’s Bay is keen to hear from anyone keen to put a GM Free sign on their property or support the campaign financially.
The group has set up a website page where people can become a GM Free Supporter and donate.