Lindy Nelson a 'woman on a mission' working to make Kiwi farms safer

Lindy Nelson.
Lindy Nelson. Photo credit: Supplied

When it comes to making Kiwi farms safer, Lindy Nelson is as determined as they come. 

Nelson was recently appointed the new chair of Safer Farms and has big plans for improving safety conditions in the country's agriculture sector.

"I am a woman on a mission," Nelson told Dominic George on Magic Talk's Rural Today on Monday.

"I'm really focused on purpose-led, mission-led problems that need to be solved."

Nelson, the co-founder of the Agri Women's Development Trust (AWDT), took over from Justine Kidd, who chaired Safer Farms since its formation in 2017 and will remain on the board.

Federated Farmers' vice president Karen Williams and Zanda MacDonald Award winner Jack Raharuhi were also named as the organisation's new directors at its AGM last week.

Nelson said she was looking forward to bringing her "research brain" to the new role in order to improve the sector's safety record.

"There's absolutely no denying that our food producing sector has a high harm rate and a really systemic culture that challenges and is resistant to change."

Nelson said her experience at AWDT working with WorkSafe to develop a "culture change programme" had shown her it was possible to make concrete improvements.

"That gave me a real taste of what is possible," she said. 

But despite her optimism, she admitted it wasn't going to be easy.

"You look at the rates of deaths and suicides or even long-term health issues [caused by] not using products like spray and drench on farm properly, there's a lot of stuff there, there's a lot of resistance to how we actually change that. 

"So it's a big problem to solve but I love solving problems."

Nelson said her immediate goal in the new role was to create a plan for the agriculture sector that "builds and defines an agreement of what our challenges are and what our combined actions for change are."

She said "without a shadow of a doubt" there were many organisations doing great work to improve conditions in the sector, but she hoped to bring all of those together in one place, to have a coordinated effort to make farms safer for Kiwi farmers.

"We have developed solutions that help them develop some systems to keep themselves safe and well so that they can produce food for the world and come home at the end of the day unharmed and feeling good about life."