New British High Commissioner goes on-farm

Recently, Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) Trade team organised a farm visit for the new British High Commissioner, Ms Iona Thomas OBE, to improve their understanding of New Zealand’s red meat industry and farming systems.

British High Commissioner on-farm visit

The British High Commission has long been an important partner for the New Zealand red meat industry due to our historical, current and future sheepmeat trade to the United Kingdom (UK).

As we wait for the signed UK-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to be implemented, the focus has shifted from securing market access to understanding how both nations can leverage opportunities to work together. 

“New Zealand farmers are recognised as leaders in sustainable red meat production with high animal welfare standards and our similar pasture-based production systems to the UK mean there are plenty of opportunities to work together as technology or systems developed in one country can be transferred easily to the other,” says Nicholas Jolly, B+LNZ’s Senior Trade Policy Advisor who attended the visit.

Before visiting Palliser Ridge Farm in Wairarapa, B+LNZ in partnership with the Meat Industry Association (MIA), provided an overview of New Zealand’s red meat industry from production through to processing.

“During the visit, the trade discussions focused on how the UK and New Zealand’s counter seasonal supply could effectively export to Asian markets all year round, keeping sheepmeat on the shelves and meeting consumer demand,” says Jolly.

“With the UK looking to enter Asian markets through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement, this cooperation would deliver value to farmers in both nations by ensuring consumers could access best in-season product.

Kurt and Lisa Portas from Palliser Ridge Farm explained how New Zealand farm systems follow the grass growth curve to maximise production while looking after soil health, water quality and biodiversity.

“We discussed how New Zealand operates a low-cost farm system and aims to grow sheep and beef as naturally as possible utilising a rotational grazing system,” Jolly explains.

“Kurt is passionate about soil health and conservation, and we covered the different uses of trees on farm for different environmental purposes such as poplar planting for soil conservation and planting natives for biodiversity and water quality.”

B+LNZ’s trade team organise farm visits for incoming diplomatic staff to build an understanding of our farming systems. This is particularly important to counter any arguments that may arise against importing New Zealand products in their home country.

“During the FTA negotiations last year, when we were seeking greater market access into the UK it was helpful that all diplomatic staff posted in New Zealand understood our farming systems and that we aren’t a threat. This helped counter the protectionist sentiment by some UK agricultural lobby groups.”

Learn more about B+LNZ’s Trade Policy team here.