Opinion: Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor responds to DairyNZ's latest "View from the Cowshed" survey, which suggested 10 ways the Government could back Kiwi dairy farmers. He lists 10 things the Government is doing to improve outcomes for farmers and New Zealand below
1. UK FTA
A substantial FTA agreement with the UK, which includes tariff elimination across all exports, with substantial tariff-free quotas in place from day one that increase until full implementation. The FTA will save exporters approximately $37.8 million per year on tariff elimination alone and provide a boost of almost $1 billion to New Zealand GDP, unprecedented access for New Zealand exporters to the UK market.
2. He Waka Eke Noa
We're helping farmers meet New Zealand's climate obligations by partnering with them in He Waka Eke Noa to create a farm-based emissions pricing scheme. This approach splits out the methane and nitrous oxide, in response to farmers' input.
3. Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund
We've to date co-invested more than $142 million into 163 industry projects worth almost $313 million in total – including research to prevent nitrate leaching with DairyNZ, improving New Zealand's beef genetics to reduce emissions with Beef + Lamb NZ, and the Future Ready Farms programme led by Ballance Agri-Nutrients, which aims to develop tools and technologies to help improve environmental performance.
4. Catchment groups
We're funding more than 170 farmer-led catchment groups, which are supporting more than 5000 farmers, helping them access expertise and tools to improve their environmental and economic sustainability, and wellbeing. Investment to date is $30 million.
5. Mycoplasma Bovis response
We've progressed steadily toward the goal of eradicating M.bovis from New Zealand to the point where we now have four infected farms, all in Canterbury. Eradication has never been achieved by a country and the Government is funding two-thirds of the $880m cost of the effort.
6. Covid-19 response
We've adopted a Covid-19 response that's kept our economy productive. We are now moving steadily toward 90 per cent vaccination, with significant help from community and industry leaders, to keep people safe and maintain our economic performance in tough times.
Along with this and in the face of global disruption, we've operated our Maintaining International Air Connectivity scheme, which keeps flights for people to and from New Zealand. It's allowed us to utilise hold space for cargo at a time when our supply lines to the world are constrained by Covid.
7. Bringing people into farming and the broader industry
In response to skills needs, we've supported a number of initiatives such as DairyNZ's GoDairy to attract Kiwis into life on the land and in the provinces. We've had our Opportunity Grows Here campaign, which has been going for a year and placed 7467 people into jobs. Further to this, we've run short-run taster courses at Taratahi and Telford to attract people to sector work.
8. Listened and acted - Intensive winter grazing module
Worked with industry and regional councils to out roll practical on-the-ground support to drive better intensive winter grazing practices. Based on feedback we've adjusted the proposed regulations and also deferred their implementation by six months to 1 November 2022.
9. Listened and acted - Freshwater regulation amendments
We moved to make more practical proposals for farmers on slope maps and exclusion zones for freshwater regulations. This also included a farm planning approach to achieve the outcome of restoring our freshwater quality within a generation.
10. One-off residency pathway of migrant workers
An estimated 9000 migrants working in our primary industries now have the opportunity to go through our one-off simplified pathway to residence, announced in September. This will provide certainty for these hardworking people and their families, as well as their employers and our rural communities.