Agribusiness: The world's hungry for our produce

By Nathan Guy

There are bright signs for New Zealand's primary producers, says Nathan Guy
Nathan Guy shares a joke with Warren Lowes at Bostock exporters in Hastings. Photo / Warren Buckland
Nathan Guy shares a joke with Warren Lowes at Bostock exporters in Hastings. Photo / Warren Buckland

As calving and lambing is in full swing, there are a lot of positives on the horizon for New Zealand farmers and growers.

Most sectors have had a great year, with horticulture in particular being a star performer. Horticultural exports are up 20 per cent compared with the previous year, wine has risen by 10 per cent, seafood is up 15 per cent and arable up 14 per cent.

Overall, New Zealand's primary sector exports have increased 3 per cent over the last year to $36 billion which is a great result, given the tough time the dairy sector has had in recent seasons. It shows we have a strong, broad and diversified primary sector.

There are positive signs for the dairy industry too, with Fonterra lifting their forecast payout to $4.75 plus dividend, taking it to around the average break-even mark. It's a great morale boost for hardworking farmers following some positive Global Dairy Trade results.

As a Government we are focused on helping the primary sector by investing heavily in research and development, skills, irrigation and water storage, and better market access.

A big challenge for the wider primary sector is making use of technology and science to keep adding value to what we produce.

Government and industry are together investing $751 million into the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), which has 19 cutting-edge research programmes under way.

I recently launched the latest programme -- a $31 million investment into developing New Zealand's sheep dairy industry through genetics, farm systems and developing new high value products.

We are supporting irrigation and water storage around the country because a reliable supply of water is a major boost for farmers and growers, and an economic injection for provincial New Zealand, creating jobs and exports.

We are also opening up new trade opportunities. The Korean and Taiwan Free Trade Agreements have been great successes and we've begun the process of negotiating an FTA with the European Union (EU).

A big challenge for the wider primary sector is making use of technology and science to keep adding value to what we produce.

Success often brings challenges and a major one ahead is finding enough skilled and capable workers.

The nature of work in the primary sector is changing. It's not just milking cows or shearing sheep -- it is things like environmental planning, IT and robotics, veterinary science, biosecurity, food safety and plant science.

At Fieldays this year we launched Growing Our Futures, a series of videos of Primary Industry Champions developed by the Ministry of Primary Industries to showcase people doing great things in the industry. It features stories from people like Richie McCaw, Rob and Sonia Waddell and Sir David Fagan.

We now have 135 Primary Industries Ambassadors available to go into schools, working with teachers and students to support learning and raise awareness of careers in the primary sector.

Success often brings challenges and a major one ahead is finding enough skilled and capable workers.

On the global front, it's been a bumpy few months in global politics with United Kingdom voting to leave the EU and appointing a new Prime Minister, and across the Tasman the ruling Liberal coalition narrowly claiming a victory in Australia. It makes politics here in New Zealand look very stable by comparison.

So what does Brexit mean for our primary sector exports to both the UK and the EU? In the short term, the simple answer is "no change".

This is because the exit will take a long time to work through -- at least two years from when the UK formally triggers the exit, and some commentators are saying it could take five or six years for the full Brexit.

In the meantime all of our existing quotas and trading rights are still in place. The rules around New Zealand access will not change until we have negotiated new ones.

So as always there is no shortage of challenges ahead of us, but also some major opportunities.

Ultimately I'm very optimistic for agribusiness because of our people. We have the best farmers in the world and as the world gets hungrier for what we produce, New Zealand is well placed.

- NZ Herald

Nathan Guy is the Primary Industries Minister.

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 11 Dec 2016 16:44:34 Processing Time: 1340ms