Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

A bright future for New Zealand's agriculture industry

A bright future for New Zealand's agriculture industry

Opinion: Jo Luxton, Associate Minister for Agriculture

It’s been only a few months since I started as an Associate Minister for Agriculture, but I’ve been enjoying every moment of it.

I’ve always had a close connection with farming life, having lived on a farm and being from a region where primary industries are the lifeblood. It’s a privilege to take up this responsibility to be able to serve such an important industry.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role so far has been the opportunity to talk with people from across the sector and see the remarkable work they’re doing. This included attending numerous industry events.

Among these was the Primary Industries Award, which showcased great examples of emerging talent.

I also attended the Century Farmers Awards in Lawrence where the longstanding contributions of farming families spanning generations was celebrated.

And who could forget Fieldays, a momentous event in any entrepreneurial farmers’ calendar.

Along with getting to see the cutting-edge technology being showcased, I got to open a panel discussion featuring some inspiring women working in agriculture.

Through events like these, it is obvious why our country has such a bright future. Our nation has arguably one of the most innovative and talent-filled agriculture industries in the world, and our exponential growth in exports backs this. Our primary industry exports are poised to exceed expectations, now surpassing $56 billion.

In this challenging environment - with Cyclone Gabrielle and a tough global economic climate – we cannot overstate the crucial role of our trade and export growth in our recovery.

That is why the recent signing of the New Zealand EU Free Trade Agreement is so important.

This agreement will provide substantial new trade access to our fourth-largest trading partner.

This progress marks a significant milestone in breaking down trade barriers and unlocking new opportunities for New Zealand products.

With an estimated annual increase of up to $1.8 billion in exports to the EU, this agreement signifies a big step forward for our nation.

This agreement will eliminate tariffs on renowned products such as kiwifruit, Mānuka honey, fish and seafood, onions, wine, and industrial goods.

It will also create sizable new quota access for beef, sheep meat, butter, and cheese, that could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Our government has always recognised the agriculture as a key pillar of our economy.

It is why we’ve been committed to enabling growth and stoking the innovation and talent already flourishing within the industry - and I’m excited to see what our future continues to bring.

by Jo Luxton