'Bold new vision' for New Zealand agriculture sector unveiled

A major new initiative which aims to grow New Zealand's agriculture, food and fibres sector on the world stage by focusing on sustainability has been unveiled.

Fit for a Better World, a plan to proivide the world's most discerning consumers with outstanding, ethically produced food, natural fibres, drinks, co-products and bio-products, was announced by the newly established Primary Sector Council at Lincoln University in Christchurch on Thursday. 

The group was set up in April 2018 by the Minister of Agriculture for an initial period of two years, and aims to help the primary sector get more value from its work.

The "bold new vision" was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor, and has the backing of major industry sector groups.

"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," said Primary Sector Council chair Lain Jager.

"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.

Ag Minister Damien O'Connor said the new vision would help achieve premiums for New Zealand producers.
Ag Minister Damien O'Connor said the new vision would help achieve premiums for New Zealand producers. Photo credit: Newshub

"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."

A new Government-industry partnership has been established - Food and Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand - which was tasked with bringing the vision to life.

Jager said Thursday's announcement followed extensive consultation.

"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."

O'Connor said it would help achieve premiums for producers.

"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."

The Primary Sector Council is developing a final report with its recommendations, which is expected in March 2020.