2 Jul 2015

Guy taps into resilience theme at agri-conference

4:27 pm on 2 July 2015

Federated Farmers is holding its national conference in Wellington, with the theme of resilient agri-business.

And Primary Industries Minister, Nathan Guy, tapped into that straight away in his address, acknowledging the resilience of farmers who have had to deal with the dairy price slump, drought in the South Island and now, the destruction caused by the recent flooding in the lower North Island.

Nathan Guy

Nathan Guy Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

He announced further Government funding of $8.8 million over four years to help local councils tackle hill country erosion.

Mr Guy said $4.7 million would go to Horizons Regional Council, which covers Whanganui and Manawatu.

The regions which suffered particularly from recent flooding and landslides.

"I've seen first hand the serious erosion caused in the severe storm in Whanganui, southern Taranaki, and Rangitikei areas, both economically and environmentally. The fund gives local councils the opportunity to plan and deliver initiatives over the next four years to tackle this problem.

"And actually, Horizons has been doing some great work in this area and I was on a farm yesterday where I could really see the difference that planting trees has made, in comparison to other nearby farms."

He said Northland, Taranaki, Waikato, Hawkes Bay and Greater Wellington regional councils would also get a share of the funding.

Mr Guy spent much of his address outlining the work being done through primary growth partnership projects, the sustainable farming fund and the greenhouse gas research alliance, to reduce farming's impact on the environment.

He said it gave lie to those who accuse the primary sector of sitting on its hands on environmental issues and climate change.

"New Zealand initiated the establishment of the Global Research Alliance and that is all about supporting collaborative research to enhance our productivity and reduce emissions intensity.

"Research and innovation is critical to respond to this challenge. Science without farmers is sterile; farmers without science will not keep up with the pace of change."

Mr Guy pointed to breakthroughs by scientists to potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sheep and cattle by 30 to 90 percent, without reducing production calling it "cutting edge" research.

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