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

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Budget provides $15m extra for the Sustainable Farming Fund

Budget 2018 includes $15 million of new operating funding over the next four years for the Sustainable Farming Fund to support more inspiring ideas in applied research and extension projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits for New Zealand.

In a joint press statement to announce this, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw say the Government is investing in projects to build sustainability, productivity and resilience across the primary sector as the Government works alongside farmers and rural communities to provide leadership on some of New Zealand’s most pressing issues.

The Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) encourages unique collaborations among farmers and growers, scientists and researchers, iwi, local government and others who are making a real difference for our rural communities and the wider primary industries, Mr O’Connor says.

“There has been a massive oversubscription to the fund in recent years, meaning good projects aren’t getting a look-in because the previous Government did not provide enough investment for the fund,” he says.

“In the last SFF round, 86 eligible applications were received but only 28 of these could be accepted.”

Mr Shaw says these projects are led by those on the front line and help find ways to optimise the use of the country’s natural resources and protect the environment for future generations.

“We have set an ambitious target for New Zealand to become a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050,” Mr Shaw says.

“A range of forward-looking measures are required to achieve this. Cleaner, smarter farming is central to our plan for sustainable growth.”

Mr O’Connor says the SFF funding boost builds on work the Government has already prioritised.

Last year, he announced the pilot for SFF Tere, which translates to “be quick, swift or fast”.

“Smaller producers are often key innovators, and four SFF Tere projects are already progressing,” Mr O/Connor says.

“I’m looking forward to doing more to help our primary sector increase value and resilience, with a head start on ever-changing consumer tastes.”

The move announced today was included in the Confidence and Supply Agreement between Labour and the Green Party.

Mr Shaw says the Government is committed to partnering with the agricultural sector to achieve shared goals for sustainability, modernisation and profitability.

“This boost to the Sustainable Farming Fund injects fresh energy into projects that explore how to farm less intensively and more in tune with the environment, while retaining profitability.”

Find out more about the Sustainable Farming Fund at mpi.govt.nz/SFF.

 

Grass-roots projects get $7.15m boost from Sustainable Farming Fund

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed 28 new projects under the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), and the new SFF Tere pilot scheme announced today.

The fund supports community-led projects at the grass-roots level to build productivity and resilience throughout the primary industries.

The 28 projects represent a combined investment of around $7.15 million.

“The SFF has enabled unique collaborations of farmers and growers, scientists and researchers, iwi, local government and many others that are making a real difference for our rural communities and the wider primary industries,” says Mr O’Connor.

“The SFF Tere pilot has been an opportunity to show we can take the SFF even further by enabling the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to increase investment in smaller projects.”

The name “SFF Tere” translates in English to be quick, swift or fast, which describes the nature of projects funded.

O’Connor had discussed the Sustainable Farming Fund with ministry officials and challenged them to develop an initiative that would enable investment in small SFF projects.

SFF Tere is the result and four SFF Tere projects, representing $271,000 in investment, have already been approved. They will get under way in the new calendar year.

Information about the 28 projects can be found HERE.

Future farming fund investment will optimise primary sector, farm leaders say

Federated Farmers has welcomed the Government’s announcement that it will lift investment in the Sustainable Farming Fund from $7 million to $20 million.

Science spokesman Guy Wigley said working with the sector was a much more effective and useful approach than the tax and punish policies of some other parties.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy announced a cross-sector panel will oversee what will be renamed The Future Farming Fund, driving advances in farming technology and practices while further reducing farming’s environmental footprint.

Since its launch 17 years ago, the Sustainable Farming Fund and leveraged sector support has helped more than 1000 projects to lift the performance and sustainability of primary producers.

“This kind of research is what keeps us at the forefront of farming technology and ensures we remain among the most efficient producers of food on the planet,” Mr Guy said.

Federated Farmers is a lead organisation in projects such as the smart irrigation study in Canterbury. This is about quantifying the relationship between irrigation over time, the accumulation of soil carbon and changes in soil water holding capacity, with spin-offs for knowledge on groundwater recharge and nutrient leaching.

“The project is typical of environmental gains we can make when we improve our knowledge of technology and natural systems,” Mr Guy said.

Federated Farmers said the payback from the Sustainable Farming Fund for food production, export earnings and the environment from turbo-charging a fund for farming technology and practice will be many times the investment.

Landcare team looks into fighting wasps with wasps

Landcare Research scientists are exploring possible biocontrol agents, including a mite, to help control German and common wasps which cost the country’s primary industries around $130 million each year.

The most recent addition to the line-up is Sphecophaga, a species of parasitic wasp whose larvae feed off their host, eventually killing it.

The species was tried as a biocontrol agent against wasps in New Zealand starting in the 1980s, but so far has been established only in a few locations.

Recent research suggests this could have happened because the parasitic wasps were from the wrong region – sourced from Switzerland, Israel and the United States. Victoria University recently discovered New Zealand’s dominate wasp species originate from the UK.

Landcare Research biocontrol scientist Dr Ronny Groenteman said this information was “a key piece of the puzzle”.

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Sustainable Farming Fund projects announced

The Ministry for Primary Industries has announced a $6.9 million investment over three years in 25 new projects through the Sustainable Farming Fund.

The fund supports farmers and researchers involved at grass-roots level to tackle shared problems or to develop new opportunities.

The ministry’s director-general, Martyn Dunne, said:

“Every year we receive a very high calibre of project applications, and this year was no different. This year’s projects cover nine primary sectors including horticulture, forestry, dairy and meat.

“Each project has a number of milestones to reach over the three years. As milestones are reached, information is shared among the community who benefits from the project. Through the fund, we are able to support industries and communities to help each other carry out applied research and field trials.

“Our investment programmes team supports each project through their milestones and each year we are pleased by the quality of projects, and the results they produce.”

Supported by the Sustainable Farming Fund, some of the problems or opportunities being looked into include:

  • optimising pollination of Gold3 kiwifruit under hail netting;
  • resource development for new-entrant deer farmers;
  • reducing use of antimicrobials when managing mastitis;
  • understanding and managing grain storage pests;
  • increasing the market share for New Zealand olive oil.

Weed killing weevil revealed at field day

An invasive weed may soon be controlled with the help of a British weevil and financial support from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund.

Field horsetail, a weedy fern, is spreading throughout wetter regions, competing with grasses, reducing the productive potential of land and impacting both grazing and cropping farmers.

Landcare Research, supported by the Rangitikei Horsetail Group, has been investigating potential biocontrol solutions to help control it and revealed last Friday a weevil (Grypus equiseti) has come out as the best candidate for the job.

“We are extremely pleased to hear they’ve found a weevil that, if approved, can help tackle the field horsetail issue affecting mainly the Rangitikei region. This will enable land to be returned to more productive use,” said MPI Acting Director Aquaculture, Growth and Innovation Alice Marfell-Jones.

“Around $300,000 was invested over three years from the Sustainable Farming Fund which has gone towards understanding the effects of the field horsetail and investigate potential biocontrol options.”

Landcare Research researcher Lindsay Smith talking about the findings at a field day held in Bulls this month.

“Throughout our testing, we found the weevil to be one of the most damaging biocontrol agents causing significant damage to field horsetail,” said Smith.

“The plant is attacked by both larvae and adult weevils, with the larvae burrowing down the weed’s stems and into its extensive root system.”

“Over the last three years we have been testing the weevil in our biocontainment facility at Lincoln to confirm it is ‘host specific’ to horsetail and so will only damage horsetail and won’t pose a threat to other flora here in New Zealand. We will now be submitting an application to the Environmental Protection Authority to seek permission to release the weevil from containment. If we are successful, the weevil will be able to be introduced in to New Zealand to start work on field horsetail.”

“We are very grateful for the funding we have received over the last 3 years to be able to carry out this research. We couldn’t have done it without it.”

The Ministry’s Sustainable Farming Fund invests in applied research and extension projects that tackle a shared problem or develop a new opportunity in the Primary Industries. Co-funders of the field horsetail research included Landcare Research, National Biocontrol Initiative, Rangitikei Horsetail Group, Horizons Regional Council, Rangitikei District Council, Rangitikei Aggregates and Wanganui District Council.