Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say wilding pines control work has nearly reached its first year target of a million hectares.
“20 per cent of New Zealand will be covered in unwanted wilding conifers within 20 years if their spread isn't stopped. They already cover more than 1.8 million hectares of New Zealand and until now have been spreading at about 5 per cent a year,” Mr Guy says.
“The National Wilding Conifer Control Programme was put in place in 2016 to prevent their spread and systematically remove them from much of the land already taken over.”
Ms Barry says wildings compete with native plants and animals for sunlight and water and can severely alter natural landscapes.
“The control programme is to protect our conservation land, iconic landscapes, tourist routes, high country farming heritage and sensitive water catchments from these invaders,” Ms Barry says.
“Last year the Government committed an additional $16 million to wilding control over the next four years and that’s on top of an $11 million already spent each year.”
“Control work has involved targeted aerial spraying of individual trees in remote areas where there is light wilding infestation, and ground control in more heavily infested areas. The programme this year covers 14 initial priority areas, including extensive areas of conservation land and farmland in Central North Island, Marlborough, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.”
Minister Guy says wilding conifer are incredibly hard to get rid of once they become established.
“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings before they start producing seeds costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost over $10,000 per hectare.”
Minister Barry says wildings are public enemy number one in the War on Weeds and top the Dirty Dozen 2017 list.
“The Department of Conservation’s Community Fund has financed a number of community groups, trusts and organisations to carry out wilding conifer control ion work in 2016/17, complementing the work of the national control programme by reducing wilding conifer spread in low density areas.”
The Wilding Conifer Control Programme has already started preliminary planning for 2017/18 control operations.
The Programme is being implemented by the Ministry for Primary Industries, Department of Conservation, and Land Information New Zealand in partnership with other central government agencies, iwi groups, local government, forestry and farming industries, landowners, researchers and community trusts and organisations.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed $388,000 in new development grant funding for the Kurow Duntroon Irrigation Company (KDIC) from Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd.
“This grant is an important step forward for this project which could have major benefits for the North Otago region,” says Mr Guy.
The funding is required to complete the remaining work to reach construction commencement and confirm the commercial viability of the proposed scheme.
“The current scheme is aging and needs updating. This project will mean water is used much more efficiently and effectively, using the latest design and technology.
“Importantly it will deliver real environmental benefits by reducing the irrigation take from small tributaries and help improve minimum flows.
“Irrigation schemes in other parts of the country have brought economic and environmental gains. A reliable source of water gives certainty to farmers and growers, helps them plan ahead and deal with droughts and dry spells.”
All decisions by Crown Irrigation Investments are made by an experienced, independent board and management team.. Strict conditions have to be met including sound governance and matched funding.
A biosecurity response is underway after the detection of myrtle rust on mainland New Zealand for the first time, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry have announced today.
Myrtle rust is a fungal disease which can seriously damage various species of native and introduced plants in the myrtle family, including pohutukawa, rata, manuka, gum, bottlebrush and feijoa.
“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) was notified on Tuesday evening by a nursery in Kerikeri that five pohutakawa seedlings had suspected myrtle rust, and laboratory testing has now confirmed this,” says Mr Guy.
“MPI has moved quickly and initiated a Restricted Place notice to restrict the movement of any plants and people at the site, and is treating nursery stock with fungicide spray as a precaution. Work is also underway to trace any stock that has left the nursery and all other nurseries in Kerikeri are being inspected today.
“The disease is prevalent in eastern Australia and Tasmania, and was discovered on Raoul Island in late March this year.
“Myrtle rust spores are microscopic and can easily spread across large distances by wind. Officials believe that wind was the likely pathway of incursion into Raoul Island, and it’s likely that wind has carried spores to mainland New Zealand from Australia.”
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry says the incursion could have serious consequences for some native species.
“Myrtle rust generally attacks soft new leaf growth, and severe infestations can kill affected plants. This could include native species like the pohutakawa and the rata,” says Ms Barry.
In Australia, the fungus has had different levels of impact on myrtle species, with some more seriously affected than others.
“Myrtle rust has long been expected to arrive in New Zealand, and since the Australian outbreak began in 2010, the Government has worked on a range of measures to help manage and adapt to the fungus in the long term if necessary,” says Ms Barry.
“This includes accelerating work already underway to collect and store germplasm from affected species, searching for signs of resistant myrtle strains which could be incorporated into a breeding programme and monitoring at 800 locations across the country.”
“DOC will also be conducting inspections of our myrtle species on public conservation land in Northland for any early signs of the fungus.”
There is no known method of controlling the disease in the wild, apart from application of fungicide in very small areas as a last resort. Even if eradication is achieved, there is an ongoing risk of reinfection from Australia.
“It’s very disappointing that this fungal disease has appeared in New Zealand. However, I want to thank the staff and owner of Kerikeri Plant Production nursery for making such a prompt notification to MPI,” says Mr Guy.
Anyone believing they have seen myrtle rust on plants in New Zealand should call MPI on 0800 80 99 66. It is very important not to touch the plants or attempt to collect samples as this will spread the disease.
In particular, anyone who has purchased any plants from the myrtle family in the last month should check for physical signs and contact MPI if any are seen.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the official start of construction on Stage 2 of Central Plains Water, which could have economic benefits of up to $374 million.
Mr Guy accompanied Prime Minister Bill English in Darfield today to cut the ribbon signalling the start of construction on the project which will have the capacity to irrigate an additional 20,000 hectares.
“This will be a real boost to the Canterbury regional economy with around 1130 new jobs expected as a result. A reliable source of water gives farmers certainty and options to invest in mixed farming operations including arable, sheep and beef finishing, dairy farming and horticulture,” says Mr Guy.
“Importantly, it also has many environmental benefits. Using alpine sourced water rather than ground water is environmentally beneficial for Canterbury as it reduces pressure on aquifers which are needed to replenish flows in lowland streams.
“Replacing groundwater with river and stored alpine river water has the potential to improve water flows into Lake Ellesmere - Te Waihora, helping the long-term process of improving its water quality.
“For any farm to qualify for scheme water it has to prepare a plan with a nutrient budget and meet high standards.”
Crown Irrigation Investments Limited (CIIL) has committed to providing a $65 million secured loan to CPW to part-fund Stage 2 of the CPW Scheme. Crown Irrigation’s partial funding of Stage 2 means that the project can be future-proofed for long term demand.
CIIL invested $6.5 million into CPW Stage 1 which has since been fully repaid, and full repayment is expected for the Stage 2 investment as well.
A new Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) project “SMART Tools and Tips for Irrigators” is aimed at improving management practices for irrigators to deliver better environmental and economic outcomes. The funding is for $294,400 and will be led by Irrigation New Zealand.
Another new SFF project led by Federated Farmers will be looking at the impacts of irrigation on soil water holding properties. This project worth $295,950 will help both farmers and regional councils by enabling more effective and efficient use of irrigation water, reduced drainage and reduced loss of soluble nutrients.
While in the region Mr Guy also visited the Hinds/Hekeao Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) project site near Ashburton.
The pilot project, which began in February 2016, is testing the feasibility of adding alpine sourced water to shallow groundwater to help recharge lowland streams during dry periods and reduce nitrate levels in the groundwater.
“I was pleased to hear that in the first year of this project, the bores monitoring groundwater conditions downstream have shown positive improvements in both water quantity with rising levels and in water quality with decreasing concentrations of nitrates.”
A recent report by NZIER found that irrigation contributes $2.2 billion to the national economy and this has the potential to increase further.
More information on Central Plains Water is available at: http://www.cpwl.co.nz/
It’s great to be here tonight celebrating two important milestones for the Orange Roughy fishery.
The first is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for several key orange roughy fisheries, and secondly to launch the book ‘Roughy on the Rise’ by Tim Pankhurst.
MSC certification is a great success and recognition for a fishery that was in real trouble in the early 1990s.
A huge amount of work has gone into rebuilding this fishery over the years by industry and successive Governments. To now have it recognised as sustainable by an independent, international body is worth celebrating.
The certification follows two years of review and assessment by an independent team of experts.
The turn-around in this fishery is a remarkable story and it’s well captured in Tim’s book, telling the story from a range of different viewpoints
What struck me about the book is some of the incredible pictures from the 1980s and 1990s of fisherman pulling up enormous catches. It was a real gold-rush but as a nation and an industry, we have learnt a lot from mistakes made in those days.
Since then scientific research has given us better information and new fisheries technology has helped this fishery to rebuild.
Many international markets are now demanding MSC certification as a baseline requirement, so to have this for such a valuable export fish stock is extremely important. This is the sixth species to achieve MSC certification.
It shows our Quota Management System is flexible and effective, and helps support the global reputation of New Zealand as being committed to developing sustainable fisheries.
MSC certification sends a message to consumers here and around the world that this is a premium product harvested with care.
Going forward, this kind of certification is going to become more important because consumers are demanding higher standards.
As a nation, we need to unashamedly target the wealthiest consumers because that’s where the value is.
As a Government we’ve set a goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025. We can’t double the volume of fish caught or milk produced, so it’s about moving up the value chain.
Overall we produce enough food as a nation to feed 40 million people so we need to be targeting the wealthiest consumers.
These kinds of consumers have increasingly high standards. They want to know the story behind their product, where it comes from and where it was produced.
That’s why your social licence to operate has never been more important.
Social licence and the Future of our Fisheries
This is one of the key drivers behind “The Future of our Fisheries”, a major review to modernise and future-proof our fisheries system which was launched in 2015.
A public discussion document was released late last year and 426 submissions were received. The three strategic proposals are maximising value from our fisheries, better fisheries information and more agile and responsive decision-making.
A part of this review is looking at ways to improve discard rules, and again we received a lot of feedback on this which we are working through.
There are also two regulatory changes outlined to allow for the Integrated Electronic Monitoring and Reporting System (IEMRS), which includes cameras, geospatial monitoring and electronic reporting, and providing flexibility for developing new trawl technologies.
The first stage of IERMS begins on 1 October this year with electronic reporting and geospatial monitoring rolled out, and then cameras on boats from 1 October next year.
This will be world-leading technology and give us arguably the most transparent fishery anywhere in the world.
This is a big change for the fishing industry and I acknowledge you for your support. The fact that most have accepted the need for changes shows you are serious about transparency.
We realise it will cost commercial fishers anything from $5,000 to $18,000 per vessel, and at the same time MPI will have added costs to support the software and back office functions.
Approval to make changes to regulations to allow IEMRS and new net technology passed through Cabinet recently, which is an important step forward. The next stage is to work with you the industry to develop the detailed requirements for the system.
We will be setting up a technical group to help with the rollout of this technology to make sure it is practical and delivers the outcomes we all want.
Overall these are the biggest changes to fisheries management in a generation, something I think many critics have failed to notice or recognise.
What is important is for your industry to be showing leadership and talking to the wider public, telling your story about who you are and what you do. So I’m pleased to hear you will soon be running a television campaign involving real people in the industry talking about your values, challenges and achievements.
MPI is also continuing to engage constructively with Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) regarding the Future of our Fisheries strategic proposals.
I want to acknowledge the critical role of Māori in all of these fisheries issues. Tangata whenua are inextricably linked to New Zealand’s seas and fisheries by whakapapa, and over 200 kaitiaki have been appointed to exercise guardianship over marine resources. The ongoing productive relationship with Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) is a very important one to me and to MPI.
The seafood industry
A couple of weeks ago MPI released their updated Situation and Outlook for the Primary Sector (SOPI). It forecasts seafood export earnings will grow by an average of 4.6 percent per year, reaching $1.9 billion in the year ending June 2018.
Your industry supports more than 8,000 jobs and has a total economic impact of $2.5 billion to New Zealand.
Your exports are worth the same dollar amount as the wine industry, which is widely celebrated. The two industries have a lot in common – both producing a high quality, outstanding product unique to New Zealand.
An initiative I noticed recently is the NZ Wine Pure Discovery Project, run by NZ Winegrowers and Auckland Airport, aimed at encouraging tourists to explore our wine growing regions. This is the kind of idea that might have merit for the seafood industry to consider.
As a Government we’re working hard to improve your trade access overseas.
Last month Prime Minister Bill English announced Trade Agenda 2030 with the ambitious goal of having free trade agreements cover 90 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports by 2030, up from 53 per cent today. We are backing this up with $91 million in new funding over 4 years to help achieve this.
As part of this, Trade Minister Todd McClay and I announced new funding of $35 million to MPI to help further support our primary sector exporters. It will allow MPI to better tackle non-tariff barriers that the fishing sector and the rest of the primary sector faces, improve trade access as well as navigating international regulatory requirements through the establishment of an Export Regulatory Advice Service
We will also expand MPI’s Economic Intelligence Unit to provide market insights and economic information to exporters, and we’ll be putting more MPI officials in Europe and South East Asia, as well as a new embassy in Dublin and a new High Commission in Sri Lanka.
This updated trade strategy is timely given all the massive changes in the global landscape over the last 12 months. Not everyone predicted Brexit or the US election results, which just shows we need to be nimble-footed and stay focussed on the many opportunities ahead of us.
Moving up the value chain
There is a lot of work underway from industry and Government to help move up that value chain I talked about earlier, and it is the first of three strategic proposals in the Future of our Fisheries discussion document.
It’s estimated that greater catch quality and value, such as moving hoki from a commodity to premium product could be worth up to $100 million annually.
Plant & Food Research scientists have developed a new method for extracting and formulating collagen from hoki skins, a by-product of the seafood industry, for use as an industrial biomaterial.
Another good example is the $48 million Precision Seafood Harvesting programme, developing revolutionary new net designs that allow fish to be landed in much better condition than traditional trawls.
Last year saw a big milestone with the launch of the new premium seafood category ‘Tiaki’.
Customers around the world will know when they see the Tiaki label that the fish has been caught and carefully selected in a revolutionary way. They will also be able to use their smartphone to connect with where and how their fish was caught via a specially designed traceability app.
The programme is expected to deliver around $44 million in economic benefits per year by 2025.
This kind of technology is world-leading. Another great example is the trawl net technology designed by Hawke's Bay fisherman Karl Warr, who is off to the United States after being named a finalist for the international Seafood Champion Award for Innovation.
There’s also a lot of work underway to support the aquaculture industry’s goal of becoming a $1 billion industry by 2025.
This week we saw a big breakthrough for another PGP programme – the first crop from the SPATnz hatchery will soon be ready to harvest and to eat, after years of investigative work.
This is a big step forward for the mussel industry which has traditionally relied on harvesting wild spat, which can be unreliable.
It is a potential game changer for the industry, opening up all sorts of opportunities around selective breeding and developing products such as nutraceuticals and other high value products.
In the Marlborough Sounds we are considering a proposal to move some existing salmon farming space to a different part of the Sounds where it could be better for the environment and local economy.
Public consultation on this closed on Monday 27 March, with MPI receiving around 600 submissions from right across the community.
This week an independent panel of three resource management experts have started public hearings on the comments that have been submitted during the consultation phase. The panel has invited iwi to meet and hear their views.
MPI has also set up a dedicated group to engage directly with iwi to discuss any concerns and explore options to address them.
I expect that people will hold a variety of views about how best to achieve long-term sustainability of salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds, and I’m interested in all feedback we receive on the relocation proposal. I look forward to receiving the report and recommendations from the independent panel.
MPI, MFE and DOC are developing a National Direction for aquaculture, working with an expert Reference Group comprised of representatives from local government, iwi, the aquaculture industry and environmental organisations.
The intent of national direction is to provide greater certainty and efficiency in the renewal of consents for existing marine farms. National direction will also strengthen biosecurity management practices. We are on track to release document for public consultation in the near future.
In Kaikōura the earthquakes have had a devastating impact on the paua fishery with over 20% of adult paua habitat covering 94 hectares lost due to uplift. The area where juvenile paua live has been impacted to an even greater degree.
We have put $2 million towards investigating the impact of the earthquakes on these fisheries, and have extended the temporary closure of this fishery which I’m pleased was widely supported by local industry who recognise the need to recover and rebuild.
Finally, we are also putting an increasing focus on recreational fishing, recognising how important this is to New Zealanders. There are around 700,000 recreational fishers who contribute around $946 million to the wider economy.
Recreational fishers harvest more than 40 per cent of the snapper and kahawai landed in New Zealand, and more than 70 per cent of the kingfish.
MPI now has a dedicated recreational fishing team to strengthen communication and engagement with recreational fishers. As part of this it is developing regional advisory groups and drop-in sessions, and developing communication plans to regularly inform recreational fishers directly on fisheries management issues (including through social media).
We are also committed to establishing recreational fishing parks in the Marlborough Sounds and the Hauraki Gulf.
We expect that the recreational fishing parks will be established after the Marine Protected Area legislation is passed.
We aim to make further progress this year, and expect that there will be further opportunity for engagement with stakeholders.
MPI is also developing a Blue Cod National Plan to provide an overarching framework for management of this fishery, involving recreational fishers throughout the process.
So there is a lot of work ahead of all of us – industry and Government – in building value, telling our story and improving our practices. But there is also a huge amount of potential and success we should be proud of, like the orange roughy story.
Thank you and congratulations to everyone involved.
A major breakthrough in breeding mussels commercially has been welcomed by Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.
“The first harvest of high-value greenshell mussels from a purpose-built hatchery means the industry will be less reliant on collecting unreliable wild spat,” says Mr Guy.
“Currently most wild spat is collected from seaweed on 90 Mile Beach. This innovation gives much more certainty to growers and means they can develop a higher value product with the characteristics consumers want, like size, colour and taste.
“It also means certainty of supply which is very important for markets.
“This is a key milestone in a $26 million Primary Growth Partnership programme called SPATnz, with equal co-funding from the Ministry for Primary Industries and Sanford Ltd.
“This is a great example of industry and Government working together to develop high-end products, adding value to one of New Zealand’s most valuable seafood industries.
“It also comes nearly two years to the day after I opened New Zealand’s first purpose-built mussel hatchery in Nelson.”
The SPATnz programme is aiming to generate economic benefits for New Zealand of $81 million by 2026.
If the technology developed by the programme is adopted more broadly throughout the sector, the benefits could be worth nearly $200 million.
About the Primary Growth PartnershipThe PGP aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of our primary sector through investment between government and the food, beverage, fibre and other industries. It provides an essential springboard to enable New Zealand to stay at the forefront of primary sector innovation. Government and industry are co-investing $759 million over time into 22 PGP programmes (3 completed and 19 underway). Once contracted, the new Sheep – Horizon Three PGP programme will add to these figures. Decisions on whether or not to approve a programme are made by the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries, under recommendation from the independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP). PGP programmes are generally long-run programmes of five to seven years’ duration and are subject to oversight and monitoring by an independent Investment Advisory Panel and MPI. Monitoring requirements include programme steering groups, quarterly progress reporting, annual plans, financial audits, and progress reviews, along with an independent evaluation of the overall programme. Government funding is only released to programmes on receipt of invoices for work completed in accordance with programme plans. Overall, the whole PGP is estimated to contribute $6.4 billion to New Zealand’s GDP from 2025, to assist towards reaching the goal of doubling the value of primary sector exports by 2025. More information is available at: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/funding-and-programmes/primary-growth-partnership/
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says activities to prevent the establishment of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) have ramped up over summer and helped raise public awareness of what is a serious biosecurity threat.
“This is a major agricultural pest worldwide, as well as a household nuisance. While it is found here from time to time, if it became established it would have significant economic and social impacts,” says Mr Guy.
“BMSB has been rapidly spreading across the world and there have been increasingly more finds detected at the New Zealand border. Three confirmed post border finds occurred during February, all reported by members of the public.
“I applaud those members of the public who notified MPI of the suspected finds and enabled the Ministry to urgently investigate. Their actions are a great example of what we are seeking to achieve through the 2025 Biosecurity Direction Statement in having a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people.
“As a result of the finds MPI stepped up a local response in each case involving laboratory testing, site inspections and deploying surveillance traps. Thankfully none of the finds were part of an established population of stink bugs in the area.
“Other work underway includes detector dog training, research on the effectiveness of lures, obtaining approval for chemical sprays and public awareness advertising and campaigns.
“There is also mandatory treatments of vehicle and machinery pathways, and targeted verification inspections on sea containers. MPI will soon be visiting European exporters of high risk cargo and working with them to mitigate these risks.
“Proactive campaigns over summer have included radio and facebook advertising and even ads on screens at service stations near ports so people continue to report any sightings to MPI on 0800 80 99 66. The recent reports from members of the public are evidence these campaigns are working.
“MPI is also now investigating the potential use of parasitical ‘samurai’ wasps, and an application to the Environmental Protection Agency is planned for later this year.
“Biosecurity is a shared responsibility for all New Zealanders, so it is pleasing to have industry and the wider public helping out. MPI is working closely with industry partners to the Government-Industry Agreement for biosecurity on this issue.
“The Government’s investment into Biosecurity is at a record high of $224 million which has helped employ new staff, new dog teams and new x-ray machines. We also have the new border clearance levy, a new inflight video for international passengers, and an $87 million biocontainment laboratory under construction at Wallaceville.
“The recently released Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement is also setting a future direction with a vision of a biosecurity team of 4.7 million people.”
BMSB feeds on a wide variety of valuable crops like grapes, kiwifruit, apples, citrus and stone fruit, and emit a pungent odour when squashed. Once established they can be hard to kill.
BMSB is native to Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. There are established populations in the USA, Canada, and a number of European countries, including Italy.
More information is available at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/responding/alerts/brown-marmorated-stink-bug/
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming new figures forecasting that primary sector exports will reach $37.5 billion for the year ending June 2017, up $0.8 billion from the previous December forecast.
“This is the first time the Ministry for Primary Industries has produced a quarterly update of its Situation Outlook for Primary Industries (SOPI) which will give us a more accurate picture during the year,” says Mr Guy.
“Next year overall primary sector exports are expected to grow by 9.7% to $41 billion. It shows we have a strong and diversified primary sector with sectors like forestry and horticulture continuing to do well. It’s also pleasing to see dairy on the rebound after a tough few seasons.
“This year is likely to be more challenging for the sheep meat sector with market volatility and the UK’s exchange rate fluctuations.
“This is why the Government is strongly supporting the meat industry through the Primary Growth Partnership, with around half the funding going to red meat projects. Access to China for chilled meat is also a major positive, along with re-negotiated access to Iran.”
The SOPI report was released by Mr Guy at the Te Hono National Summit for primary industries leaders in Christchurch today. A full copy is available at http://www.mpi.govt.nz/about-mpi/corporate-publications/
Thank you for the invitation to speak at today's forum in the great city of Brussels. What a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas on the role agriculture plays in global sustainability.
It was a pleasure to hear from the previous speaker, Kofi Annan, given the wealth his experience brings to the conversation. I also look forward to hearing from my fellow speakers in the panel discussion on this vital issue.
The Sustainable Development Goals have placed agriculture at the forefront of the global development agenda, and have helped bring an important focus on issues of food security and sustainable agriculture.
The scale and speed of our rising global population is well-understood, however the ability of agricultural production and distribution to meet this demand is a challenge that we must all address.
For example, global population is forecast to grow by 2.3 billion by 2050. Global agriculture demand will need to increase by 60 to 70 per cent to meet this demand.
Farmers worldwide are realising they will need to produce more safe and nutritious food while operating within increasingly tight environmental constraints.
Of course, the Sustainable Development Goals are all interrelated and cover a number of areas of importance to food production, however I want to draw on a specific few of these goals, and elaborate on how they relate to what we have experienced in New Zealand.
New Zealand has a population of around four and a half million people, and we can currently feed around 40 million people. We won’t be able to produce much more food, yet we’ve set a target to double the value of our primary sector exports by 2025.
The defining moment in this ambition actually started in the 1980’s. Prior to then, New Zealand was very much the UK’s farm. The majority of our agricultural production was basic in nature, and predominately exported to one market.
After the UK joined the European Market we were forced to adapt. Almost overnight we moved from an inefficient Government-subsidised production system to the subsidy-free system we still have today, and are proud of.
At the time, many thought this would be the end of farming in New Zealand. But farmers are innovative people. When required to, they can follow market signals.
These days, the signals farmers respond to come directly from consumers. In response, farmers have adapted, making higher quality products that people want to buy, responding to changing tastes and demand, while ensuring the safety and sustainability of their products.
In order to find the most efficient way of improving on-farm performance, farmers need to be at the centre of innovation, and listening carefully to these desires of the consumer.
The Primary Growth Partnership in New Zealand is designed to help find new technologies and production systems that fix problems facing the industry. Farming groups put up their own money which is supported by Government to make them happen – and the challenges we’ve set ourselves demonstrate how much environmental and economic drivers are united:We’re working for a 50% increase in the efficiency of nitrogen fertiliser, and a 20% increase in the efficiency of phosphates, reducing nutrient losses and preventing harm to waterways We’re using advanced monitoring and breeding techniques to produce sheep with a higher level of naturally present omega-3 fatty acids – meaning healthier sheep meat. We’re developing and promoting technologies that help farmers digitise information about their farming practise, track a number of indicators and ultimately share their best on farm techniques with others in a way that improves productivity.
We know all of these projects can help empower farmers to do what they do better, and in the process create more sustainable farming businesses.
Today we live in an age where consumers are increasingly more aware of the products they consume. However, at the same time, they are also more detached from the processes that occur inside the farm gate.
We all have a role to narrow this urban/rural disconnect. Consumers need to know we are good stewards of our land and sea, and we need to understand that we require a social licence to operate.
In my opinion, farmers and growers are naturally environmentalists. They want to leave the land in a better state than they found it – for their children and their grandchildren.
Similar to the aspiration of SDG 6, the New Zealand Government has recently set a target to improve the quality of our waterways. New Zealand is blessed with beautiful natural resources, however agriculture and urbanisation have had an impact.
Currently 72 percent of New Zealand rivers meet a ‘swimmable’ standard – meaning that you can swim without getting sick from bugs in the water. The Government has set a target of having 90 percent of rivers swimmable by 2040.
This will involve farmers fencing off 56,000 kilometers of our waterways to exclude livestock and reduce levels of eColi. This distance is from New Zealand to Europe - not once but three times! This follows the great work dairy farmers have already voluntarily done over the last decade to exclude nearly all dairy cows from waterways.
As outlined in SDG 13, we also must take urgent action to tackle climate change. New Zealand is also keen to be a part of setting the global economy on a pathway to a low-emission future under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We realise our emissions profile is different to many other countries, with 50% of our emissions coming from animals, although we are only 0.15% of worldwide emissions.
That’s why we helped support the establishment of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse gases which has seen 47 member countries join – including 15 from Europe. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach with the work programme, including focuses on rice paddies, pastoral livestock and cropping.
As a niche producer that makes its living in global markets, New Zealand experiences every day the obstacles in place for agricultural producers seeking to make a sustainable income from trading internationally. Developing countries face the same issues.
We need to move away from jealously guarding domestic markets, and consider how we can best work together to seize the far greater opportunities and challenges being generated by spiralling global demand.
As mentioned in SDG 17, a sustainable global agricultural sector requires stable trade flows between countries, and the increased involvement of farmers, harvesters and processors in the global value chain.
Populations are growing, and food production must grow too – but this won’t necessarily happen in the same places. Food has to cross borders to get to growing population centres, and at the same time we need efficient global food markets to cushion the impacts of local environmental and climactic events like famines, floods, and other issues that lead to avoidable food price volatility, hunger and deprivation.
At the centre of the global food security equation is the multilateral trading system, underwritten by the World Trade Organisation. That institution still sets the rules that govern the flow of food around the world, as it has done for the last 23 years.
Increasingly though, regional and bilateral trade agreements are forming – coalitions of countries who realise the importance of upgrading the rules of global commerce.
New Zealand and Europe are key players in many of those coalitions, just as we are partners in helping to improve the WTO framework.
For example, many New Zealand companies are now cooperating throughout European countries with other producers.
This involves complimenting one another on seasonality differences and different access to markets to benefit farmers in each country.
These partnerships need to provide a firm basis for the enormous investments needed to sustainably lift agricultural production to meet demand in the coming decades.
There is a multitude of areas we should be focusing on to address the Sustainable Development Goals. However, one thing is certain, for anything to be successful, the farmer must be at the centre.
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.