A positive sign for the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme is that a clear majority of infected farms are now beef rather than dairy.
The funding supports the Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan, which aims to diversify Southland’s economy, grow the population and strengthen local business.
“Agriculture is well-established in Southland and is the largest contributor to the region’s GDP,” Joyce says. “The key to strengthening the regional economy will be diversify land use and find innovative and sustainable ways to lift productivity.
“In October AgResearch announced that they will invest $5 million of government funding in the Southern Dairy Hub, a new research and demonstration farm that will ensure the local dairy sector can continually benefit from access to the latest science.
“As part of the Southland action plan, the Ministry for Primary Industries will be contributing a further $220,000 to sustainably increase beef and sheep productivity through a programme that will develop the skills and capability of farmers and promote the uptake of improved farming systems and practices. A particular focus of this programme will be expanding new ventures, such as dairy-beef production and sheep milking.
“Any productivity gains in agriculture must be underpinned by reliable long-term access to water. To this end we will be contributing $300,000 to the development and delivery of Southland’s People, Water and Land Strategy to maintain and improve freshwater quality.
“The strategy is already underway and is designed to foster collaboration and accelerate adoption of good water management practice amongst all land users. Teams made up of recreational users, farmers and representatives from Environment Southland and community groups will manage Southland's priority catchments through joint work programmes.
“The major primary industries may soon be constrained by environmental limits, so implementing a water strategy that has buy-in from sector groups is a priority for the region, with wide-ranging benefits.”
The Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan has been developed by the region with central government support. It forms part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, which looks to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand. Individual actions in the plan are led by various different agencies.