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

Government backs programme to future-proof Sauvignon Blanc vines

The Government is investing in a seven-year programme led by Bragato Research Institute to help future-proof the sustainability of New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc grapevines, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

Sauvignon Blanc comprises 87 per cent of the country’s wine exports.

“This new $18.7 million grapevine improvement programme will introduce genetic diversity into our vines, and ensure they continue to thrive in New Zealand conditions,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Anticipated climate change impacts require action now to ensure New Zealand continues to be considered the world’s Sauvignon Blanc capital.

“New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc vines are based on one clone, which presents some risk. Developing improved, commercially-available variants of this grape variety will also act as an industry insurance policy against future risks from pests, disease and changing markets.” Continue reading

Independent report on M.bovis response welcomed

Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed an independent review into the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme, which has found it is on track to achieve eradication and made recommendations to boost biosecurity work.

The review finds the programme is running well and is on track to achieve the world first of eradicating M.bovis, Mr O’Connor said.

It also notes the impact on farmers involved and the work the programme has done over the past two years to make necessary improvements, following a difficult start.

“We are now in a situation where we are down to four infected farms, all of which are situated in Canterbury.” 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 investment in farmer-led catchment groups sweeps past 150 mark

Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land management practices has passed a milestone, with more than 170 catchment groups nationwide now receiving support, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says.

“When it comes to freshwater, we have a job to do as an industry and that’s to restore our rivers within a generation,” Damien O’Connor said.

Today he announced $2.1 million to support 31 farmer-led catchment groups in the ManawatūRangitīkei, and Wairarapa which are helping farmers and growers transition to more sustainable land use. Continue reading

APEC economies commit to a 10-year food security roadmap

The implications for ag/hort scientists were still being studied , when AgScience posted this news.

But it involves food production and food security, so our expertise is bound to be required.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor made the announcement.

Agriculture and food ministers from APEC economies have committed to delivering a new roadmap to guide efforts to boost food security over the next ten years, he said.

The commitment was made at the virtual Food Security Ministerial Meeting which Mr O’Connor hosted as part of New Zealand’s hosting of APEC 2021.

“Ensuring the world has a consistent supply of food is one of the biggest challenges facing APEC economies and the rest of the world, particularly as we recover from COVID-19,” Damien O’Connor said. Continue reading

International collaboration delivers new tools to help tackle agricultural emissions

The Global Research on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA), an alliance backed by New Zealand is delivering promising new technologies such as cow vaccines and probiotics to tackle agricultural emissions, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

Eleven research projects, funded and delivered under the alliance of 64 countries, have been recently completed.

Damien O’Connor said reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions is a global challenge and a key part of the Government’s Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential Roadmap, released last year.

“The completed projects have enabled important discoveries, significantly advanced scientists’ understanding, and led to the development of technologies to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.”

Project milestones include:

  • new technologies for developing methane vaccines which have now been included in New Zealand’s domestic vaccine programme for cattle
  • better understanding how ‘direct-fed’ microbial and silage inoculant products can be produced to enable cows to deliver beneficial microbes to pastures, which includes contributing to Fonterra’s new methane-reducing probiotic for cows called KowbuchaTM
  • potential nitrification inhibitors to reduce nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching from grazed pastures
  • identifying new potential compounds and ways to inhibit the production of methane in the rumen of cattle
  • boosting scientific understanding of how irrigation management can reduce nitrous oxide emissions from soils without affecting pasture dry matter production

New Zealand contributed one third of the global investment of $28.7 million in the projects.

Damien O’Connor said the GRA provides a multinational platform to identify global climate issues and work together to make breakthroughs and develop practical solutions.

“The GRA enables us to identify, understand, and tackle issues more rapidly than if each country acted alone.  It also provides a network for sharing, so the research outcomes can have wider benefits across the globe.”

Fit for a Better World has bold targets for New Zealand to move to a low emissions economy.  The important discoveries and technologies from this GRA-funded research add to the growing global toolkit of practical tools and techniques available to our farmers and growers.

 “New Zealand has been a leader in pastoral farm production, now we need to be leaders at reducing while producing,” Damien O’Connor said.

Source:  Minister of Agriculture 

Government welcomes farmers’ undertaking to improve intensive winter grazing practices

The farming sector has agreed to make immediate improvements to intensive winter grazing practices for the coming season and the Government will help them achieve this.

Intensive winter grazing (IWG) is a farming practice where stock are confined to outdoor feeding areas planted with fodder crops.

“If done poorly, IWG has serious negative effects on animal welfare and the environment, particularly freshwater health and estuaries. Farming leaders accept that these practices need to improve and they want to be part of the solution,” Environment Minister David Parker said.

In return for the farming sector’s commitment, the Government has deferred the introduction of IWG practice regulations for a year until May 2022, while these improvements are made. However, rules preventing the expansion of IWG will still apply.

The Government will work with the farming sector to improve on-the-ground IWG practices for the benefit of freshwater quality and animal welfare.

“The one year deferment will enable an IWG farm plan ‘module’ to be rapidly developed, tested and deployed ready for formal incorporation into wider certified freshwater farm plans in 2022,” David Parker said.

David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor say they have always seen the freshwater farm plan regime as the key to achieving improvements in IWG practices.

The Ministers thanked Beef + Lamb, Dairy NZ and the entire Southland Advisory Group for working cooperatively with the Government on effective and practical solutions to manage the impacts of winter grazing on the environment and animal welfare.

Damien O’Connor said the direction of travel is known to all involved.

“This decision provides certainty of direction and timeframe. We can get on and put farm plans into place as quickly as possible across all farming operations,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Immediate improvements in IWG practices this season are required, and I have set out my expectations to both councils and industry bodies,” David Parker said.

“Increased monitoring and reporting by councils will also ensure measurable improvements in IWG by May 2022. This will include quarterly reports to me.”

A draft IWG farm plan module has been developed by the Southland Advisory Group, which included Environment Southland, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Fish and Game and Federated Farmers, with input from iwi and Local Government NZ.

“The draft module will give councils and the farming sector a head start in meeting their commitments to us,” David Parker said.

The Government is determined to stop further degradation of our waterways and estuaries and to improve water quality for all New Zealanders. That is part of our commitment to lay the foundations for a better future for the generations of New Zealanders to come.

Source:  Minister for the Environment and Minister of Agriculture