Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor was celebrating the performance of New Zealand’s farming industries this week — but farmers themselves are battling some of the worst weather in recent history.
It’s little consolation that irrigation dams are overflowing. Soils are saturated and in some regions dairy farmers are looking in vain for the tankers transporting milk to factories.
O’Connor says he is closely monitoring the current weather events
He reckons in the two years since COVID-19 came knocking on doors, “collectively, we’ve done a terrific job keeping the wheels of the economy turning”.
ANZ agri-economists say the wet conditions across most of New Zealand have made it very difficult for wintering stock as soils are saturated. Some regions have received more rain in the past month than they have all year.
Delays getting stock to processors also mean some farms are carrying more stock than normal for this time of the season.
They suggest the labour shortages that meat processors have been faced with might require a reconsideration of farmers’ heavy reliance on being able to get space at processors when they want it with little notice. More forward planning, including supply contracts, could be beneficial for all parts of the supply chain.
In his press statement, O’Connor says final export data shows New Zealand’s food and fibre exports for the year ending June 2022 leapt to $53.3 billion, adding $1.1 billion to the expected $52.2 billion announced in June,
“This outstanding result is testament to the ongoing efforts of our farmers, grower, foresters, fishers and processors.The June quarter saw a strong finish to what had already been forecast to be a record year”. Meat and dairy exports led the charge in bringing an additional $1.1 billion into the economy.”
He noted the data also showed seafood and horticulture exports surpassing the previous year’s exports—”fantastic news.”
O’Connor said the Government is committed to continuing its work with the food and fibre sector on its ongoing success.
“We developed the Government and sector roadmap Fit for a Better World to lift productivity, sustainability and jobs because we all recognise our markets are evolving and the climate is changing.
“Through Budget 2022, we committed more than $1 billion to help the sector reduce agricultural emissions, boost productivity, and provide vital support to farmers and growers on the ground such as through the new On Farm Support team.
“We’ve also committed more than $216 million in projects through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund. The sector’s contribution takes total funding to more than $482 million.
“Together we’re backing a large range of projects from understanding regenerative farming practices in the New Zealand context, to exploring and progressing new sectors, such as hemp and medicinal cannabis.”
The food and fibre sector continues to head New Zealand’s export-led economic recovery.
Its exports made up 81.4% of New Zealand’s total exports in the year to 30 June 2022.
ANZ agri-economists are not quite as enthusiastic about what the government has done.
They say the flood of regulatory change shows no sign of letting up. While there is widespread support for the intent of many of these rules, the practicality of implementing rules and the unintended consequences remain a key concern for many.
“Recently the Climate Change Commission has recommended sharp upward changes in pricing guidelines for carbon credits released in the quarterly government auctions, and have advised they don’t support including sequestration within the He Waka Eke Noa framework.
“What is very clear is that we still have some way to go in terms of regulatory change, and consents will be something most landowners will need to get used to”.