Conference theme Seeds of Change

It’s less than a couple of weeks to the annual New Zealand Grain & Seed Trade Association annual conference, which this year is based around the theme Seeds of Change.

To be held at Rydges Wellington from August 18-20, the conference will feature the usual mix of quality presenters discussing topical issues, sectional business group meetings and the NZGSTA annual general meeting. One of the early speakers is Mark Bojensen-Trepka, marketing and industry engagement manager at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), who will talk about forecasting for the grain and seed industry.

Also speaking on the first day is Ali Spencer, a highly experienced journalist who is president of the New Zealand Guild of Agricultural Journalists and Communicators.

Spencer will cover “Science and agriculture media – how to use science and data to explain our issues and advice for communicating with the public and media”.

Given some of the coverage in the mainstream media of agriculture in recent times and the resulting negative public perception, Spencer’s message will surely offer some food for thought.

Other presenters on the first day include Craig McGill and Hamish Gow, who will talk about next year’s seed summit, while a Ministry for Primary Industries representative will look at current seed import and export issues.

Nathan Guy.


Primary Industries minister Nathan Guy is the first speaker on a busy second day, followed by Mark Trainor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, principal advisor, Trade & Economic Group, whose topic is “New Zealand’s trade strategy and how the grain and seed industry can take advantage of the new world order”.


Jacqueline Rowarth.

After Trainor, Jacqueline Rowarth, former professor of pastoral agriculture at Massey University and now chief scientist at the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), will discuss “What does EPA do and how does its work affect the grain and seed industry, such as regulations, genetic technologies, new organisms and substances”.

Rowarth is a strong believer in agricultural science and business forces, and has crossed swords with advocates of organic agriculture, anti-GM technology, and some environmentalists seeking to restrict agricultural production, so it’s sure to be an interesting presentation.

David Farrar.


Other speakers include political commenter David Farrar, founder of Kiwiblog and someone who has worked in parliament for four National Party leaders. Given the general election is on September 23, Farrar’s presentation on the “New Zealand political environment (coalitions, personalities and policy) through to 2020 – what does it mean and what can the grain and seed industry do” will be timely.


Jacqui Dean.

Minister of Commerce Jacqui Dean will also make an appearance, talking about intellectual property rights and giving a plant law reform update, while MPI’s Martin Dunne will look at how to grow and protect the grain and seed sector through to 2025.

Given last year’s pea weevil incursion in Wairarapa, MPI response controller David Yard’s presentation on how to avoid complacency and recent biosecurity incursion responses – lessons and learning for the industry, will also be an interesting address.

All-up, it promises to be a fascinating conference.

Collin Williscroft, Rural Reporter