At this time of year it’s customary to look back and take stock, and looking back on 2021 there’s a lot to cover. And safe to say 2022 will be another big year.
Our sector has continued to perform admirably despite everything that gets thrown at it. It remains a standout in the New Zealand economy.
COVID-19 has continued to create challenges – for individual farmers thinking about what a case on-farm would mean to their farming operation, for farming-related events, through to getting products to market internationally. As we did in the first year of the pandemic, the sector has continued to show resilience and commitment in the face of these challenges. A special thanks to the processing sector and all those essential workers that have enabled continued value creation from our wonderful product.
The resilience of farmers is being tested by the scale and pace of regulatory changes, particularly in relation to environmental rules. B+LNZ continues to have farmers’ backs on this and, together with other sector groups, push the Government hard on getting workable rules. While there’s still more to do, we’ve had significant concessions this year, with the Government amending the winter grazing and freshwater rules.
We also have farmers’ backs in terms of support on-farm. We launched our updated farm plan in March along with winter grazing modules and have had thousands of farmers using these. We also launched B+LNZ’s GHG Calculator this year, a free tool designed to help farmers measure on-farm GHG emissions and sequestration, providing a good base of information and helping farmers prepare for future requirements.
It’s heartening to note the Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) eradication programme is on track to achieve the world’s first eradication of this disease. In November an independent review into the eradication programme outlined a range of lessons learned and this will help improve this response and the biosecurity response system for any future livestock disease incursions.
Other notable announcements this year included the New Zealand-UK trade Agreement in Principle, a significant boost for the red meat sector. Once the Free Trade Agreement is signed and ratified, New Zealand will benefit from significantly improved access for high-quality beef and more certainty for sheepmeat exports. Fifteen years after implementation all tariffs and quotas will be removed. Our B+LNZ staff alongside MFAT and MPI made a significant contribution to an outstanding result.
The Taste Pure Nature origin brand continues to go from strength to strength in our key markets, underpinning exporters’ marketing programmes and enhancing the positioning of New Zealand red meat. Keep an eye out for more exciting developments next year. Global demand for protein has never been greater and this is reflected in strong prices. Factors such as an increasing world population and a reduction in the amount of available land should continue to result in demand for healthy sustainable food production.
For B+LNZ as an organisation, it was a big year getting our mandate reconfirmed. The 2021 sheepmeat and beef levy referendum saw us getting out to roadshow meetings all over New Zealand – from Kerikeri to Tuatapere and everywhere in between – talking to farmers about what’s important to them and how we plan to invest their levies. It’s always great to meet face to face and hear farmers’ passion for the issues and receive feedback on how B+LNZ can do an even better job.
The ‘yes’ result from the referendum was really pleasing and a great endorsement for our skilled hard-working team in recognition of all they do for the sector. Since then we’ve been focused on delivery.
One of the big themes to come out of the roadshow meetings was the importance of B+LNZ working with other sector groups such as DairyNZ and Federated Farmers and speaking with one voice. We take that on board and have been focused on working more collaboratively and effectively with these groups, and ensuring farmers are aware of what we’re doing together.
Another priority for farmers was R&D (research and development) and we’ve kicked off significant investment programmes in Facial Eczema and internal parasites, and secured government funding for a five-year programme to boost our investment in beef genetics.
We already know there will some significant challenges in 2022. First, we’re focused on agreeing viable alternatives to the ETS for pricing agricultural emissions. By now you should have received a joint B+LNZ/DairyNZ mailout about this to digest over the holidays, and more information will be available in January. We encourage you to find out more and be ready to have your say during the B+LNZ/DairyNZ/Federated Farmers roadshows, or online, in February.
We’re also working hard to maintain pressure on the Government to make changes to the ETS that will place limits on the amount of carbon forestry offsets fossil fuel emitters can access. While it has been heartening to see a growing chorus of voices join us in raising concerns about unchecked land conversion for carbon farming, we remain frustrated by the Government’s inaction to date. This will remain a key focus.
There’s more work to be done to get better environment rules and more generally to deliver the wide-ranging work programme outlined in our 2021-26 strategy. And we’ll still have to navigate supply chain disruptions caused by the global pandemic. Through it all, B+LNZ will be there for farmers.
There’s a lot to do. But first, let’s enjoy the festive season.
We wish you all the very best for the holidays. Be safe and protect all those on farm and in your family over this period.
From Andrew Morrison, chairman, and Sam McIvor, chief executive