WorkSafe New Zealand has told a parliamentary select committee prosecuting farmers for dangerous practices would not be a productive way of improving safety in the sector.
Chairman Gregor Coster told MPs WorkSafe's active stance in the forestry industry, where it combined education programmes with prosecutions, drove change and led to fewer injuries and deaths.
However, Mr Coster said WorkSafe did not believe taking the same approach with farmers would be as successful.
"Our approach has been let's work with the farming sector to bring change.
"There's a wide range of industry bodies. We're working with them all. We're enjoying working with them.
"So it's not just about prosecution."
In the year to July 2015, 20 people died in work-related on-farm accidents - more than double the number killed in forestry, mining and construction combined.