Food and fibre sector gets funding boost to become more sustainable, adapt to climate change

The bulk of the funding will go to 12 freshwater mitigation projects.
The bulk of the funding will go to 12 freshwater mitigation projects. Photo credit: Getty

A number of projects aimed at furthering sustainability in the country's food and fibre sector received a funding boost on Thursday.

The Government gave $18 million to 22 projects to help educate farmers on how to use their land more sustainably, meet environmental targets and better adapt to the effects of climate change.

The bulk of the funding - $14.4 million - would go to 12 freshwater mitigation projects over four years, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor said on Thursday.

Seven projects focusing on "adaptation" would receive funding of $2.8 million of up to three years, and $800,000 would be provided for "extension" projects, he said.

The freshwater mitigation projects aim to assess the effectiveness of a range of methods for protecting water health and reducing nutrient runoff; including nutrient management techniques, mechanical protection techniques, herd testing and supplements.

The adaptation projects focus on improving the food and fibre sector's resilience to a changing climate and helping farmers move towards a low-carbon future. Topics include climate change impact on trade and biosecurity through pests and control, future-proofing irrigation through adaptation and decision-making and assessing risks and planning for resilience to adverse events.

Funding for extension projects focuses on translating the latest scientific research into practical information for farmers, so the science can be applied at the farm level. 

"The primary sector have told us there are three priority areas where they need more knowledge and tools, so the projects we're funding have been targeted towards those areas: freshwater mitigation, climate adaptation, and climate change extension," said O'Connor.

"Our farmers and growers play a vital role in New Zealand's rural communities and economy and will do for the foreseeable future. These projects will help further bolster our green reputation in a global pandemic environment to ensure New Zealand builds back better, together."