Monday, June 18, 2012

Fieldays 2012: Another Success!

As the gates closed on the 44th New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays, it was obvious that the biggest event on our farming calendar was another success.

The largest agricultural showcase in the Southern Hemisphere saw over 128,000 visitors flock to Mystery Creek for the four-day event - a nine per cent increase in attendance on last year and a triumph for organisers and exhibitors.

I opened Fieldays on Wednesday and enjoyed a full day at the event before returning on Friday with the Prime Minister for another big day. What I noticed as we wandered around was the positive attitude of many farmers. They are confident about their future and they know they’re producing a superior product that’s in demand all around the world. This is great to see.

I spoke to a German visitor and asked him whether this was his first visit to Fieldays. He told me he’d been each year for the last 20 years which shows great commitment and demonstates that Fieldays are much more than a New Zealand event!

Fieldays are a great opportunity to show how good our primary producers and manufacturers really are. If you want to see the engine room of our economy running at full steam, I really encourage you to book a trip to Mystery Creek for Fieldays 2013.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MAF to become Ministry for Primary Industries

MAF has changed its name and will now be called the Ministry for Primary Industries – better reflecting the importance of the whole primary sector to New Zealand’s economy.

The Ministry for Primary Industries will encompass all Government work including agricultural, horticultural, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and food sectors, as well as biosecurity and animal welfare.

The name change is a logical move. It recognises the broad role the Ministry has of growing and protecting the primary sector, the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy.

Importantly it provides the different parts of the organisation with a single unifying identity to champion the sector.

The new name will come into effect on 30 April 2012.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tracing scheme becomes law

The National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme passed its final reading in Parliament last night. This is a great step to future-proofing New Zealand agriculture.

NAIT is primarily a data recording and collection system which will provide information on livestock, their location and movement history throughout their lifetime.

The scheme needs to be mandatory to effective. With the passing of the legislation cattle farmers now know they will be required to tag on 1 July this year, with deer farmers following on by 1 March next year.

Despite a tricky passage over the past eight years, NAIT really is a no-brainer. If we continue to ignore the fact that most of our trading partners already have animal ID systems in place and we fail to keep up, we will lose precious market share.

The majority of farmers I've spoken to agree that NAIT is an important move for New Zealand's agriculture sector, and I'm pleased that many industry organisations supported the Government's move.

New Zealand punches above its weight when it comes to accessing world markets and meeting demand of our increasingly discerning customers. NAIT is a logical step in protecting farmers in the international marketplace and strengthening New Zealand's biosecurity.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Irrigation Fund’s first project great news for Hawke’s Bay

This week’s announcement of the first project as part of the Irrigation Acceleration Fund (IAF) is great news for the Hawke’s Bay region.

The go-ahead for the project delivers on the Government’s promise to lift economic growth through efficient use of water storage.

The Government and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will jointly fund a $3.3 million feasibility study of the Ruataniwha Water Storage Project.

This project, with its storage dam on the Makaroro River, has the potential to provide security of supply for Hawke’s Bay farmers, improve flows in summer and enhance recreational opportunities.

It stands to unlock enormous productive potential in the region, with the amount of irrigable land likely to increase from 6000ha to around 22,000ha.

I always say that one of our greatest competitive advantages is water. It’s our “liquid gold”. But we haven’t done a good enough job of storing, allocating and utilising this wonderful resource.

Smart irrigation infrastructure development is key to building an innovative competitive and sustainable rural sector.

This announcement is a big step in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wrapping up 2011

2011 has been an eventful and challenging year. The Canterbury earthquakes and more recently the Nelson floods have highlighted a real sense of community pulling together to get through the hard times. As I’ve said before, in the worst times we see the best of New Zealanders – something we should all be proud of.

Farmers have also faced hard times but the sun god’s are shining at the moment. Excellent spring weather has meant a great start to the season for most sheep, beef and dairy farmers with plenty of feed about. This has helped put us on track for record primary exports this year, something all New Zealanders will benefit from.

When I became Agriculture Minister in 2008 my goal was to work with farmers to boost profitability. We’re well on the way with that, and I’m pleased to see renewed confidence across the primary sector.

November’s election result was a strong vote of confidence in a National-led Government. It showed that nearly every second voter backed the Government’s focus on less debt, more jobs and stable economic management.

The focus on building the country’s economy is behind the Government’s decision to bring the primary industries together in a primary sector ‘super Ministry’. The Ministry for Primary Industries – incorporating agriculture, biosecurity, forestry, fishing and aquaculture – makes sense.

I’m delighted to be appointed New Zealand’s first Minister for Primary Industries. I also welcome my colleague Nathan Guy as Associate Minister.

Looking ahead, my focus in 2012 will continue to be water and biosecurity.

Water is one of New Zealand’s greatest competitive advantages, but we are not making the most of it. Developing water storage and irrigation has huge potential to unlock economic growth.

I will also continue to work closely with industry to ensure our biosecurity system works more efficiently.

2012 is going to be another busy year. I wish you all the very best for the festive season.