Meat Board announces investment in innovative beef genetics programme

The New Zealand Meat Board (NZMB) is to invest up to $1 million a year in the ground-breaking Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) genetics programme.

The decision, which is subject to consultation with farmers, will see the NZMB joining the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) in supporting the seven-year Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) partnership, which aims to boost the sector’s profits by $460m over the next 25 years.

The INZB programme is focused on increasing the uptake of the use of genetics in the beef industry. The five main components of the programme are building a genetic evaluation and data infrastructure, progeny test herds, developing breeding objectives and indexes, developing new data sources and supporting farmer uptake of new genetic information.

B+LNZ Genetics is using its experience of building a genetic engine for sheep to build a similar engine for beef, combining phenotypic, genotypic and genomic data to calculate breeding values for agreed traits. This will give commercial farmers the ability to quickly and easily source the right genetics for their environment and farm system and drive greater profitability.

“The objective of the NZMB is to manage quotas in export markets to help capture the best possible ongoing returns and manage industry reserves,” says Andrew Morrison, chairman of the NZMB.

“Returns generated from reserves management supports the industry to increase productivity, profitability and increase product returns so beef genetics is a great fit for funding.

“We think it is important to invest on behalf of all farmers to ensure all farmers can benefit from genetics. We have seen the role genetics played in the transformative gains in the sheep industry over the last 30 years and we want to ensure the same can happen for beef.

“The INZB programme will put tools in the hands of farmers that will increase the rate of genetic gain across our beef industry. It will allow beef farmers to continue to breed profitable, sustainable and productive cattle and to keep up with the sheep and dairy industries. The NZMB is proud to back this important project.”

Mr Morrison said the Board had assessed the proposal to support the INZB programme against a number of key criteria before it was satisfied to release the industry good funds.

NZMB has been one of the funding partners for B+LNZ Genetics for seven years. It has previously helped fund development of projects such as B+LNZ Genetics sheep development, in partnership with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The Board holds the residual funds from the old Producer Board. A lump sum is held to reopen markets for New Zealand meat products in the event of a market access challenge, such as Foot and Mouth Disease, while the interest is applied to industry good projects.

Source:  NZ Meat Board

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