Government supports innovative dairy sheep sector to scale up

The Government is boosting its partnership with New Zealand’s dairy sheep sector to help it lift its value and volume, and become an established primary industry, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF) fund will contribute $7.97 million to a $19.94 million developmental programme led by Spring Sheep Co.

The investment is a measure of Government backing for ‘Scale Up’, a new five-year partnership programme with Spring Sheep Milk Co. designed to take the dairy sheep industry from the piloting phase through to an established primary industry. Continue reading

“Science” was mentioned early in Budget speech but the bucks were unleashed in connection with “research”

The good news:  “science” was mentioned in the opening sentences of the Budget speech today.

The more disheartening news:  it was mentioned just once and only in the context of previous budgets rather than the latest one.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson recalled that each of this Government’s three previous Wellbeing Budgets had considered the performance not only of the economy and finances, but also the wellbeing of the people, the health of our environment and the strength of our communities.

“In Budget 2020 and 2021 we applied that wellbeing approach to dealing with COVID-19. This meant taking a health and science-led approach…”

And that was it.

Fair to say, things looked more promising when your editor checked for mentions of “research”.

Yes, it was mentioned in a section of the speech on the Agricultural sector. Continue reading

New research centre for climate action on agricultural emissions to be established

The Government announced today it has committed $710 million over four years through the Climate Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to accelerate efforts to lower agricultural emissions, expand the contribution of forestry to reduce carbon, and produce alternative ‘green’ fuels.

Almost $339 million is being allocated to accelerate the development of high-impact technologies and practices to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, including the establishment of the new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions.

The food and fibre sector was the country’s biggest export earner but also its largest contributor to emissions, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“And if we don’t take action now, we will be at risk as consumer preferences evolve,” he said.

“The key to our continued success rests on our ability to produce world-leading food and fibre products that keep pace with consumer expectations and maintain our clean and green brand. This investment will not only sharpen our competitive edge in the future, it will also unlock opportunities for careers in agri-tech and generate export revenue through product development.”

The announcement also highlighted:

  • Funding for forestry to develop alternatives to fossil fuels, boost carbon storage and increase sequestration
  • Support for producers and whenua Māori entities to transition to a low emissions future

Continue reading

Government support for Māori landowners to invest in growing sheep milk industry

The Government is backing a project to support Māori landowners to invest in New Zealand’s rapidly growing sheep milk industry, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said today.

It is investing in the Māori Agribusiness Sheep Milk Collective, which aims to have several farms milking about 25,000 sheep and potentially employing more than 100 people by 2030.

Global demand for sheep milk and sheep milk products is booming, Mr O’Connor said. Exports of New Zealand sheep milk products were valued at $20 million in 2020.

The Government is injecting $700,000 into the Māori Agribusiness Sheep Milk Collective to help it explore the potential to sustainably produce sheep milk at scale, create jobs and further grow this emerging export market.

The collective is made up of 20 Māori land trusts and incorporations that own more than 24,000 hectares of land stretching from the western shore of Lake Taupō to the Hauraki Plains. Continue reading

Horticultural programme to provide new opportunities for Ngāti Hauā

The Government is partnering with Ngāti Hauā Iwi Trust to develop a horticultural programme that will empower Ngāti Hauā whānau to upskill, diversify their businesses and sustainably generate wealth from their land.

The Waikato-based iwi has received $1.12 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund and $150,000 from the Ministry for Social Development. Te Waharoa Investments Limited, the commercial arm of Ngāti Hauā Iwi Trust, is co-investing a further $775,000.

“The three year Peria Horticultural programme will help Ngāti Hauā Iwi Land Trust and landowners’ businesses to flourish by developing an education hub and trialling high-value crops,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“Ngati Haua have a 10 year goal to create 129 jobs and generate $25 million in earnings per annum. This SFF Futures funding will set a strong foundation for them to achieve this.” Continue reading

Government invests $1.34m in hemp research

The Ministry for Primary Industries is investing $1.34 million in hemp research and development through its Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures).

Funding recipient New Zealand Natural Fibres (NZFN) is itself putting $2 million into the five-year programme, which will explore flooring, food packaging and activewear among other innovations.

NZFN chief executive Colin McKenzie says it’s pleasing to have government backing.

“Hemp has huge potential to be part of the solution to some of the most crucial environmental challenges facing our planet today,” McKenzie says.

He says the funding will be used to both ramp up innovation and enhance the company’s growing, processing and marketing capability to propel it toward a global leadership position in the industry.

On the innovation side, NZNF will be developing blended wool and hemp fibres for use in soft flooring and outdoor activewear, McKenzie says. Continue reading

Govt funding to help give the ‘humble’ onion an extreme makeover

The ‘humble’ onion is about to undergo an extreme makeover, with the Government investing $2.83 million in a programme to enhance the competitive advantage of New Zealand’s onion industry, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

Onions New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund will jointly invest $6.02 million in a six-year integrated programme called ‘Humble to Hero: Transforming the New Zealand Onion Industry’.

“Consumers around the globe are increasingly looking for values-based products that are light on the environment, and sustainably produced. This programme seeks to differentiate our onions from those produced in the rest of the world,” Damien O’Connor said. Continue reading

Government helps sharpen the competitive edge of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry

The Government is backing an innovative research and development programme to help accelerate the establishment of New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry and boost export potential, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing nearly $760,000 to the $1.9 million, three-year programme led by project partner Greenlab, which aims to establish evidence-based medical cannabis cultivation practices.

“New Zealand’s primary industry is built on excellence in applied science. This investment will see Greenlab’s researchers carrying out rigorous trials and lab testing at its leased facilities at Lincoln University to ensure a consistently high-quality and effective pharmaceutical product,” Damien O’Connor said.

“As medicinal cannabis has only been legal in New Zealand since 2020 there is a lack of available scientific information about how to best cultivate therapeutically active compounds.” Continue reading

Government invests in scientific research to boost economy, address climate change and enhance wellbeing

Research, Science and Innovation Minister  Megan Woods has announced the recipients of this year’s Endeavour Fund to help tackle issues such as boosting economic performance, climate change, transport infrastructure and wellbeing.

Sixty-nine new scientific research projects were awarded over $244 million, through New Zealand’s largest contestable research fund.

This year the Government has invested over $13 million to help New Zealand transition to a low-carbon future.

Over $11 million is being invested in research to address climate change related risks, including the Scion led ‘Extreme wildfire: Our new reality – are we ready?’ and ‘Fish futures: preparing for novel freshwater ecosystems, led by Cawthron Institute.

“It’s also key that a te ao Māori worldview is integrated into our research. Manaaki Whenua’s ‘Te Weu o te Kaitiaki – Indigenous regeneration pathways’ project is a great example of this. It uses whakapapa frameworks to re-imagine biocultural solutions to restore ecological systems, reconnect people to place, and deliver sustainable economic growth for communities,” Megan Woods said. Continue reading

Government commits $4 million additional support for flood-affected Canterbury farmers

Did our president’s latest newsletter to NZIAHS members do the trick and persuade the Government to be more generous to Cantabrians?

Professor Jon Hickford’s comments in the newsletter on issues related to ag/hort science and to the sectors they serve included this observation:

The Government’s response to the flooding which inflicted millions of dollars of damage on farmers, growers and others in Canterbury – the offer of $500,000 of help – was sadly ill-timed.  It coincided with the announcement of a $780 million investment in a bridge for walking and cycling across the Waitemata harbour, to be built alongside but separately from the Auckland Harbour Bridge. 

The Government has not reconsidered the bridge project, so far as we know.  But it has increased its financial help for the cleanup after the flood.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced the Government is injecting a further $4 million into relief funding to support flood-affected Canterbury farmers who are recovering from the damage of a historic one in 200 year flood. Continue reading