A bold new vision for New Zealand’s agriculture, food and fibres sector was released yesterday at Lincoln University in Christchurch by Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor and has been welcomed by Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd.
The Primary Sector Council (PSC)’s vision for the whole of New Zealand’s primary sector is to be a world leader in modern regenerative production systems that are Fit for a Better World.
The new vision is about providing the world’s most discerning consumers with outstanding, ethically-produced food, natural fibres, drinks, co-products and bio-products, says PSC chair Lain Jager.
“Fit for a Better World recognises the importance of reflecting care for our natural resources and our people in everything we eat, drink and wear. As global environmental pressures continue to mount, this is about us standing for a sustainable future in a way that both speaks to and honours both our global consumers and our children,” he explains.
“By continuing our journey from volume to value we can both increase the economic value of the agriculture, food and fibre sector and reduce impacts on the environment. Sustainable production represents our best and most prosperous future.”
The PSC is developing its final report with its recommendations, expected in March 2020. A new government-industry partnership – Food and Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand – will bring the vision to life.
The Primary Sector Council will provide regular updates on its work and is inviting public feedback and input through its social media pages.
“Many New Zealand food and fibre producers across the sector are already well on the pathway to producing ethical and sustainable products that recognise sustainable practices as fundamental in our global positioning,” says Jager.
“Fit for a Better World is a shared vision for all agriculture, food and fibres sector organisations to engage in. It provides the foundations and a framework for future producers, innovators and sustainable businesses to grow from.
“Given the importance of the agriculture, food and fibres sector to New Zealand, and all who work in it, we undertook significant consultation to ensure we developed a single compelling vision that reflected the broad, diverse nature of the sector.
“Through this consultation with organisations across the breadth of the sector, themes including sustainability, grower-to-plate storytelling, pasture-fed protein, excellence in water management and consumer expectations and desires continue to play a crucial part in the success of the sector.
“While there is real frustration that we are not recognised for the good work already underway, we discovered a real willingness within the sector to embrace the idea of a single vision.”
A key part of Fit for a Better World is the Māori concept of Taiao, putting the health of the climate, land, water and living systems first. It provides a uniquely New Zealand way to shape the future. Importantly, while the language may be new, the idea of producing food and fibres in balance with nature is absolutely understood and embraced by the sector.
“We see practical examples of this reflected in, for example, catchment and farm level environmental plans. The sector is already well on the way but we know we still have much to do,” say Jager.
“When we developed Fit for a Better World, our engagement with farmers, growers and others brought home the greatest challenges we face: moving to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity and, at the same time, feeding and caring for our people and delivering a prosperous future,” he says.
“Consumers are increasingly wanting more ethical and sustainable products and the concept of Taiao gives us a solid foundation and an opportunity to produce outstanding products.
“What’s clear to the Primary Sector Council is enriching New Zealand’s future needs commitment and a highly sophisticated approach at every level – from government policy and environmental performance through production systems to sales and marketing platforms and brand building.
“Food and Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand and Fit for a Better World will help ensure New Zealand has a focused and thriving agriculture, food and fibres sector for many generations to come, that will help to reinvigorate our rural communities and continue to support the well-being of all New Zealanders.
“Through Fit for a Better World we now have a way to wrap our ‘New Zealandness’ around every food and fibre product we produce.
“The release of our vision today is the start of a journey that we believe all New Zealanders can be part of.”
O’Connor delighted farmer and grower organisations are supporting the PSC’s vision
“I’m delighted that New Zealand’s major farmer and grower organisations are today supporting the PSC’s vision,” he said at the launch.
“The international consumers who buy our world-class product increasingly want to know the story behind their food. They want to know it’s climate friendly and sustainably produced, with high animal welfare standards and by a workforce that’s treated with respect and paid fairly.
“By using Fit for a Better World as our guide, I’m confident we’ll achieve premiums in the marketplace from consumers seeking out our food and produce,” O’Connor said.
The PSC was established to provide fresgh thinking and develop a vision to help sectors navigate the environmental and sustainability challenges it faces, he said
“The Council’s engagement with Kiwi farmers, growers, fishers, makers and crafters has resulted in a vision which the sector can rally around.
The next step is taking the vision and turn it into a realistic and workable plan.
B+LNZ welcomes the launch
Welcoming the launch Beef + Lamb NZ Ltd (B+LNZ) chair Andrew Morrison says his organisation, “is supportive of the broad vision of having a coordinated approach across all sectors and Government that will help us develop our international brand and deliver more value for farmers.”
The vision aligns with the Taste Pure Nature work already underway by B+LNZ, explains Morrison. This is a country-of-origin brand that takes advantage of New Zealand’s unique farming systems where beef cattle and sheep are naturally-raised outdoors and pasture-fed year round. Underpinned by the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) and the work of B+LNZ’s Environment Strategy, it provides confidence for consumers overseas who see the Taste Pure Nature branding on New Zealand beef and lamb that what they re purchasing lines up with their values.
B+LNZ will engage in the process through Food and Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand and is looking forward to the launch of its final report and recommendations in March 2020.
Members of the small establishment group, who will be developing options at pace, will be: Lain Jager (independent chair), Ray Smith (Ministry for Primary Industries), Carolyn Tremain (Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment), Andrew Morrison (B+LNZ Ltd), Jim van der Poel (dairy sector), Barry O’Neil (horticulture sector), Davi Rhodes (forestry sector), Miniana Stephens (PSC transition member) and Traci Houpapa (Federation of Māori Authorities). As work progresses, the group will expand to ensure sectors such as fisheries and viticulture are included in the long-term structure.
For more information about the Primary Sector Council’s vision, visit fitforabetterworld.org.nz