Friday, July 1, 2022

Adding up agriculture’s budget haul

The Government has announced extra funding for advisory services, forestry and animal welfare in the primary sector in this year’s budget.

Including pre-budget announcements, the sector gets almost $1 billion.

Of the $190 million in funding announced on budget day, $118.4m has been given for farm advisory services, $40m has been granted to help transformation in the forestry industry and $31.6m to help maintain and lift animal welfare practices across New Zealand.

Budget 2022 followed a pre-budget announcement of $710m to tackle agricultural emissions, including the establishment of a Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions and accelerating carbon sequestration through forestry.

Agriculture minister Damien O’Connor said $110 million was also announced pre-budget to boost the biosecurity system and continue the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme.

O’Connor said the new $190m in funding will help farmers adapt practices and drive value growth as they respond to changing international markets.

“Consumers across the world are demanding higher requirements in areas like sustainability and animal welfare practices. New Zealand’s food and fibre sector products are known for their quality the world over, but we must continue to adapt.”

The funding for advisory services will be allocated over four years and will support farmers’ decision-making when switching to more sustainable farming practices.

“Many of our farmers and growers are already undertaking positive practices like wetland restoration, setback fencing from waterways, riparian planting and low-till cultivation.

“People on the land need confidence they can access excellent information and sound advice that complements existing industry efforts. The vast majority acknowledge it’s a changing world and are adapting. What is important is that all farmers and growers are supported in their business decisions as they necessarily focus on sustainability,” O’Connor said.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash said the $40m investment in the industry over four years will accelerate transformation in the forestry, fisheries, food and beverage, and wood processing sectors. 

“Industry Transformation Plans are being developed in partnership with industry and Māori to identify high-impact actions that strengthen the performance of our primary sector. 

Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri said Māori agribusinesses were continuing to diversify and grow and it was important to provide on-the-ground support to them.

“We need to focus on solutions that encompass Māori tikanga but also offer opportunities to lift sustainability and productivity for our people.

“Through Budget 2022, we are also committing almost $32 million over four years to protect New Zealand’s animal health and welfare system and reputation.

“This includes increasing compliance and enforcement, for example, through more on-farm inspectors and providing more help on the ground when responding to adverse events,” Whaitiri said.

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