$15m investment in sheep and beef genetics

Steven JoyceGenetics research to improve the profitability of New Zealand’s sheep and beef sector and meat quality got a $15 million dollar boost yesterday. Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced a new government investment to run over the next five years that will see the establishment of a new partnership – Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics.

This will bring together New Zealand’s existing sheep and beef genetics research by consolidating Sheep Improvement Ltd, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test, and Ovita. Total funding for the new project from government and industry sources will be up to $8.8 million per year.

“Science and innovation are major drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness. The Government is committed to ensuring we invest in purpose-driven research that benefits New Zealand,” says Joyce.

“Genetic improvement in the sheep industry has contributed greatly to farm profitability, and for every dollar captured on farm, another 50 cents is captured off-farm. In just 10 years Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics expect that farmers will receive $5.90 extra profit per lamb sold at that time.”

Mike Petersen, B+LNZ Ltd chairman.Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd chairman Mike Petersen says the Government’s funding commitment was a pleasing show of confidence in the New Zealand sheep and beef sector, with the potential to significantly boost farmer profitability and that of the New Zealand economy.

“The investment supports a whole range of research, identifying new breeding traits that will produce more efficient animals and those that meet consumer preferences in our valuable export markets.

“We’re especially interested in further developing the traits that thrive on hill country, as this is where an increasing proportion of New Zealand sheep and beef production is based these days with changing land use to dairy.”

The funding, contributed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, will allow further expansion into beef genetics, and will allow both the beef and sheep industries to further improve genetic gain in the development of new traits to satisfy the increasing trend of farming in hill country environments.

“Investing in genetics will help improve meat quality, contribute directly to improving on-farm profitability, and ensure we’re meeting the needs of consumers,” Joyce says.

“As a nation, we are already leading the world in pastoral animal and plant genetics. This partnership will help us maintain this critical position and to continue to build on it through further research and development in sheep and beef genetics.”

AgResearch will play a major role in the partnership, along with other research partners Abacus Bio, Lincoln University, Massey University, and the University of Otago.

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