Science advisory group is among the Govt’s plans to improve water quality

The Government today announced its next steps to improve the state of our waterways, promising a noticeable improvement in water quality within five years.

The establishment of a Science and Technical Advisory Group is among the initiatives.

Mr Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor released the Government’s blueprint to improve freshwater quality along with a new approach to the Māori/Crown relationship that will acknowledge Māori interests in fair access to water to develop their land.

New rules will be in place by 2020 to stop the degradation of freshwater quality – a new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and a new National Environmental Standard, he said.

The rules would  include controls on the excesses of some intensive land use practices to better protect remaining wetlands and estuaries.

“We will drive good management practices on farms and in urban areas,” Mr Parker said.

“We are also amending the Resource Management Act to enable regional councils to more quickly implement water quality and quantity limits.

“We know Māori share the same interests as the rest of New Zealand in improving water quality and ensuring fair access to water resources.”

The Government’s approach to solving these issues entails engaging leading New Zealanders who care about freshwater – “environmental NGOs, Māori, farming leaders, scientists, Regional Council experts and others”.

This looks much the same as the consultative approach taken under the previous government.

Mr Parker said:

“Already, we are working with the primary sector and regional councils in the most at-risk catchments. I recently visited the Aparima River in Southland where the farming community is leading a project to get all 600 land managers in the catchment following better farming practices.”

This seems to be a reference to a project which began in 2013, when some farmers in the Balfour area formed an environmental  cleanup group.

Damien O’Connor said the primary sectors are crucial to an environmentally sustainable, high-value economy that supports the wellbeing of all New Zealanders.

“This is why we must grow a sustainable and productive primary sector within environmental limits.

“Many in the sector are already working hard to protect the natural resources they depend on, and recognise the importance of enhancing our reputation as a trusted producer of the finest food and fibre products. The workstreams set out today recognise the importance of accelerating this good work.”

The documents Essential Freshwater and Shared interests in Freshwater can be read on the Ministry for the Environment website at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/fresh-water/essential-freshwater-agenda

The Government said the work programme will deliver:

Targeted action and investment in at-risk catchments, including accelerating the implementation of Good Farming Practice Principles and identifying options for tree planting through the One Billion Trees programme.

A new National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management by 2020, to ensure all aspects of ecosystem health are managed, and address risks, for example by providing greater direction on how to set limits on resource use, and better protection of wetlands and estuaries.

A new National Environmental Standard for Freshwater Management by 2020, to regulate activities that put water quality at risk, such as intensive winter grazing, hill country cropping and feedlots.

Amendments to the Resource Management Act within the next 12 months to review consents in order to more quickly implement water quality and quantity limits; and to strengthen enforcement tools for improving environmental compliance.

Decisions on how to manage allocation of nutrient discharges, informed by discussion and engagement with interested parties.

Involvement of interested parties in testing and advising on policy options through a network of advisory groups; Kahui Wai Māori, the Science and Technical Advisory Group, and the Freshwater Leaders Group.

Members of Kahui Wai Māori, to bring a broad Māori perspective, are Kingi Smiler (chair); Dr James Ataria; Mahina-a-rangi Joy Baker; Riki Ellison; Traci Houpapa; Dr Tanira Kingi; Paul Morgan; Millan Ruka; Prof Jacinta Ruru; Hon Dover Samuels; Annette Sykes.

The Freshwater Leaders Group, “appointed because of their personal experience and commitment, not as representatives of any organisations”, are John Penno (chair); Mandy Bell; Alison Dewes; Graeme Gleeson; Traci Houpapa; Stephanie Howard; Tom Lambie; Bryce Johnson; Corina Jordan; Allen Lim; Dr Hugh Logan; Marnie Prickett; Dr Marc Schallenberg; Lees Seymour; Prof Nicola Shadbolt; Gary Taylor.

The Science and Technical Advisory Group will ensure science is accurately interpreted and incorporated into the policy process.  Its members are Ken Taylor (chair) Dr Adam Canning; Dr Bryce Cooper; Dr Clive Howard-Williams; Dr Chris Daughney; Dr Bev Clarkson; Graham Sevicke-Jones; Prof Ian Hawes; Prof Jenny Webster-Brown; Dr Joanne Clapcott; Dr Jon Roygard; Dr Marc Schallenberg; Dr Mike Joy; Professor Russell Death.

 

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Animal welfare system is strengthened from today

Regulations to strengthen our animal welfare system come into effect from today, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

The regulations have been developed over the past three years in consultation with industry and advocacy groups, and target lower-end offending.

They make it easier for officials to take action against animal mistreatment and target specific behaviours that need to change.

From today, Animal Welfare inspectors from the ministry and SPCA can issue fines for certain actions, such as allowing dogs in cars to get heat-stressed or failing to provide tethered goats with access to water and shelter.

Some of the regulations are infringement offences, with set fines, while others are prosecutable offences, which could result in a larger fine and criminal conviction.

They cover on-farm practices and transporting livestock, largely reflecting existing farm practices but some set new requirements.

Many of the transport-related regulations apply to farmers selecting lame, sick or injured stock, so farmers should check they are doing it right or face a $500 fine, O’Connor advised.

Farmers and transporters can download the Fit for Transport app or go to the MPI website where an interactive tool brings together all regulations, guidance and minimum standards in the codes of welfare.

Read more  HERE.

Source: Minister for Primary Industries

Building a biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is calling on every New Zealander to help build a biosecurity team of 4.7 million as part of the Ko Tātou This Is Us campaign.

Ko Tātou This Is Us is an independent biosecurity brand that aims to connect all of us with the many ways we can help protect Aotearoa from pests and diseases.

“With biosecurity in the spotlight as we attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, turn away ships to keep the Brown marmorated stink bug out of New Zealand, and deal with the emergence and spread of Myrtle rust and Kauri dieback, now is the time for every New Zealander to stand up and take action on biosecurity,” Damien O’Connor said.

“Biosecurity keeps safe everything that shapes our unique way of life, from the great outdoors we farm, fish, hunt and play in to the biodiversity of our unique ecosystems.”

The campaign includes a video, featuring a kuia looking back on her life and urging New Zealanders to understand that everything shaping our way of life is finite and fragile and we must all play our part in protecting it from pests and diseases.

Go to thisisus.nz HERE. 

Source: Minister for Biosecurity

Minister to talk sustainable agriculture on world stage

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is on his way to Europe to represent New Zealand on the international sustainable agriculture and climate change stage.

He will speak at the international conference on agricultural greenhouse gases and food security in Berlin, co-sponsored by the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, which New Zealand led the establishment of in 2009.

As the first New Zealand Minister to visit Italy since the formation of its new government in April, he will meet with counterparts. In Rome he will also meet with the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

In Paris Mr O’Connor will host a reception to support New Zealand’s candidate for Director-General of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, Dr John Barker.

In London he will meet with UK officials and industry representatives to discuss the development of the UK’s agricultural policy.

Mr O’Connor will also meet with key European stakeholders on EU-New Zealand free trade agreement negotiations. He travels from 10-16 September.

The Government last week celebrated a decade of work by the Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change Research Programme, where $50 million for 150 projects has helped our primary sectors understand and adapt to climate change.

“This valuable work ensures our agriculture can remain profitable and sustainable into the future – knowledge coveted by countries around the world – and we value our relationships with like-minded agribusiness countries,” Mr O’Connor said.

Source:  Minister of Agriculture

Deloitte report shows need to protect Pukekohe food hub

A report released at a function at Parliament last week – AgScience missed it at the time – warns of a the hefty economic impact on Auckland if the value of fruit and vegetable production in Pukekohe isn’t recognised in land-use policies.

Horticulture New Zealand commissioned Deloitte to report on the significant contribution Pukekohe’s horticulture industry makes to the health and wealth of New Zealand, and in particular its largest city, Auckland.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor seemed to be aware of the issue.   He said:

“New Zealand’s soils are a precious resource, not just for our growers but for every Kiwi who likes to eat their greens. I support efforts to ensure we protect our elite, food-producing soils so our growers can continue to feed us with healthy, natural produce.  “

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the Labour-led Government had shown a willingness to collaborate with horticulture, and this report was part of the evidence-base his organisation would bring to the table as it works on finding the answers to the questions it posed.

Deloitte has made six recommendations in the report.  Horticulture New Zealand agrees with all of them.

Mr Chapman said:

“If decision-makers don’t have a clear view of the value of the Pukekohe food hub, we run the risk of an economic hit to Auckland of up to $1.1 billion in 25 years, with the loss of up to 4,500 fulltime jobs, less fruit and vegetables available, and prices up to 58 percent higher. During that time Auckland will also be hungrier, with population set to rise to 2.3 million.

“It is essential that we have a holistic view of our food supply chain to ensure informed decision-making around critical areas such as land use and water allocation. To meet environmental and health imperatives, as well as consumer expectations, it makes sense to protect growing hubs close to our main population centres. They not only provide food that contributes to the physical health of New Zealanders, but also jobs, and vibrant businesses and communities.

“Food and housing are competing for land and water. We need both, so now is a good time to be smart about long-term planning for food security and domestic supply. We will not always be able to source food from other countries – look at the extremely hot summer the northern part of the world is having and the impact it is having on food production because of drought.”

Deloitte Partner and Agribusiness Lead Andrew Gibbs said the challenges to ensuring the Pukekohe hub remains a bulwark of New Zealand’s food supply are not small.

“We believe success requires central and local government to work together with the industry to best protect and enhance this natural asset, and sustainable business models.

“We hope our New Zealand Food Story report provides valuable insights into the health of a strategic growing region and furthers the conversation on the country’s need for an agreed food security plan.”

The full report is available here and a summary of the report is available here.

Questions and answers on the report are available here.

Source:  Horticulture  New Zealand

New programme to foster high-value goat milk infant formula industry

A new Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme launched today has its sights on growing a sustainable, high-value goat milk infant formula industry in New Zealand.

Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ) is a five-year, $29.65 million PGP programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd.

The objectives include improving the health and well-being of families, delivering a range of benefits such as growing research and farming capability and increasing export revenue across the New Zealand dairy goat milk industry to $400 million per annum by 2023.

The programme was launched in Hamilton today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

“Our CAPRINZ PGP programme aims to strengthen the position of goats’ milk infant formula as the preferred alternative to conventional milk infant formula,” says Dairy Goat Cooperative chief executive David Hemara.

“We recognise breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for babies and infants.  Our aim through this PGP programme with MPI is to target consumers in New Zealand and overseas by meeting demand in situations wherebreastfeedingg requires supplementation or isn’t feasible.”

The CAPRINZ PGP programme will develop innovative tools to enable all New Zealand goat farmers to measure and improve their performance, while ensuring any economic gains don’t come at the expense of the rural environment.

“Because many dairy goat farm systems use off-paddock animal housing facilities there’s the opportunity to decrease the environmental impact of pastoral farming through conversions from other farming systems,” says Mr Hemara. “Our programme aims to increase dairy goat numbers in the long term by 50% to over 100,000.”

MPI director-general Martyn Dunne says the CAPRINZ PGP programme expects to deliver a number of industry-wide benefits.

“In addition to the economic benefits, the CAPRINZ PGP programme also aims to create more than 400 new jobs on-farm, improve dairy goat farming practice and sustainable production, and boost capability across the industry,” says Mr Dunne.

“It will also grow New Zealand’s research capability in the science of high-value nutrition and health, and establish a dairy goat research farm to deliver and trial its innovations.

“The CAPRINZ PGP programme meets our criteria for investment, such as an innovation focus, delivering economic and environmental benefits, and a focus on the value chain.

“Due to the uniqueness of our New Zealand pastoral farming, developments by the programme won’t be able to be easily replicated overseas, ensuring benefits are retained in New Zealand.

“We’re excited about the benefits expected from the programme and the difference it’ll make for New Zealand’s goat milk industry.”

More information on the programme HERE. 

The CAPRINZ programme was one of nine business cases for new Primary Growth Partnership  programmes in the pipeline prior to the announcement of the independent review of the PGP. The review was announced in late 2017.

Source:  Ministry for Primary Industries

 

Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures launched in move from volume to value

Growing New Zealand’s food and fibre sectors sustainably and supporting a thriving economy are the hallmarks of a new investment programme announced today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The best of two Ministry for Primary Industries investment programmes – the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership – have been taken to create Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures, or SFF Futures, Mr O’Connor said.

“We are moving from volume to value. New Zealand’s commodity growth drive has come at the expense of the vital natural resources we need for our primary sector – our soil, water and social license to operate,” he said.

With a budget of $40 million a year, SFF Futures will provide a single gateway for farmers and growers to apply for investment in a greater range of projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits that flow through to all Kiwis.

“The food and fibre industries are the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, delivering more than $42 billion in export revenue last year, and the Coalition Government wants to help extract more value from what they already do, in a sustainable way that means our natural resources will be there for future generations,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Targeted funding rounds may include projects focusing on specific outcomes, such as climate change or the environment.”

The announcement was made on a farm in Morrinsville alongside the launch of a project to tap into the high-value, New Zealand goat milk infant formula industry.

“The CAPRINZ programme is the type of SFF Futures programme we are looking for,” Mr O’Connor said.

It has a value chain focus, is expected to  deliver environmental and sustainability benefits, grow an important industry, foster collaboration, build capability and retain the benefits in New Zealand.

Source:  Minister of Agriculture