New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Lithuanian Agriculture Minister Bronius Markauskas met on Monday in Vilnius, Lithuania to discuss a range of agricultural issues in each country.
"Clearly, there are many similarities between our countries, including the role of dairy in our respective economies," says Mr Guy.
“New Zealand is an example for Lithuania,” says Lithuanian Minister of Agriculture B. Markauskas
“We are quite similar – in both countries the dairy industry and agriculture in general play a huge role. I was in New Zealand previously and I was impressed by the great atmosphere and the relationship between the government and farmers, as well as the country's agricultural potential.
During the meeting the Ministers discussed trends in the agricultural sector, Brexit, the implications of elections in the major EU countries, bilateral cooperation, and good partnership practices.
Ministers noted that recent global dairy prices have had an impact on dairy farmers in both countries, and this has emphasised the importance of continuing to add value to dairy products.
"There are plenty of opportunities for collaboration between our respective dairy sectors, such as that already occurring between Fonterra and Rokiškio Sūris as well as collaboration prospects with Lithuanian dairy cooperative Pienas LT,” the Ministers said.
"There is more potential for our dairy and other sectors to collaborate. We have complimentary production seasons and different market advantages in different regions. Our roles in global value chains will benefit farmers in both countries,” says Mr Guy.
"It's pleasing to see support from Lithuania towards an NZ-EU FTA. This agreement would greatly benefit further collaboration between our agricultural sectors.”
"An NZ-EU FTA would be the first practical step towards greater agricultural cooperation between our countries,” says Mr Markauskas.
He noted further potential opportunities to work together in the dairy sector, especially in the context of expanding global demand. Another potential opportunity to collaborate is in sheep breeding.
“New Zealand and Lithuania produce similar products and we can learn from each other in areas such as animal welfare, water quality and greenhouse gases from the agriculture sector. There are concrete areas where government, farmers and agricultural processors can work together."
Minister Guy invited Minister Markauskas to visit New Zealand and in return Minister Markauskas invited Minister Guy to attend the next AgroBalt exhibition in Lithuania 2018.