Monday, 16 December 2019 10:52

Primary Sector Council's starry-eyed vision

Written by  Nigel Malthus
(L-R) PSC chair Lain Jager, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor. (L-R) PSC chair Lain Jager, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

The Primary Sector Council (PSC) has unveiled its vision for the future of New Zealand’s primary industries. 

It centres on the Māori concept of Taiao, which emphasises respect for, and harmony with, the natural world.

The council was established by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in April 2018 on a two-year mission to provide strategic advice on issues and to develop a sector-wide vision for the future.

It presented that vision, entitled “Fit For a Better World,” last week in a high-powered launch at Lincoln University attended by O’Connor, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern and a lecture theatre full of sector leaders.

PSC chair Lain Jager said the vision was intended as an anchor for strategy and investment, and a guiding star for decision-making.

“It's a pathway to sustainable prosperity, sector confidence and the social license we badly need in the context of the global challenges that confront us.” 

Jager explained that council member Miriana Stephens, of the Māori-owned agribusiness Wakatu Incorporation, had introduced the council to the concept of Taiao, which describes a deep relationship of respect and reciprocity with the natural world. 

“We propose that Taiao can be a distinctive guiding star for our agriculture food and fibre sector and therefore it sits right at the heart of our vision,” he said. 

“If we are to embrace Taiao and capture the potential economic benefits of this way of thinking and behaving, we need to maximize the productive potential of our catchments and farm within safe environmental limits. That means a relentless focus on developing modern scientifically informed and technology supported regenerative production systems.” 

milk glass

PSC chair Lain Jager at the launch of the new vision.

Jager said the council recognised concerns for the global environment, but the sector was already heavily engaged in the transition to environmental excellence and this must continue. As part of the effort, it was important to have a common framework and language describing our relationship with nature, which Taiao would provide.

Jager claimed “Fit For a Better World” was a uniquely New Zealand positioning, encapsulating Taiao as the guiding principle and delivering products through ethical and regenerative farming systems. 

O’Connor welcomed the release of the vision.

“The international consumers who buy our world-class product increasingly want to know the story behind their food. They want to know it’s climate friendly and sustainably produced, with high animal welfare standards and by a workforce that’s treated with respect and paid fairly.”

milk glass

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also at the launch.

O’Connor said NZ farmers and growers produce some of the highest quality food and fibre in the world but must adapt to our consumers’ changing needs.

“I established the Primary Sector Council to provide fresh thinking and develop a vision to help sectors navigate the environmental and sustainability challenges it faces.

“The council’s engagement with Kiwi farmers, growers, fishers, makers and crafters has resulted in a vision which the sector can rally around.”

O’Connor said the council’s final report and recommendations are expected in March 2020.

“The next step is taking the vision and turn it into a realistic and workable plan.” 

To enable this, he has established a new body called Food and Fibres Aotearoa New Zealand. 

“It will involve government, industry and Māori working together to deliver meaningful change.”

More like this

All sizzle, no sausage — Editorial

OPINION: Despite all the hype and political theatre surrounding last week’s release of the Primary Sector Council’s report, the document seems more like a horoscope than a clear guide to anywhere.

Primary sector no more

The Primary Sector Council believes it’s no longer appropriate to refer to “the primary sector”.

More waste!

Your old mate notes that after almost two years of cosy meetings and more than $2 million wasted, Ag minister Damien O’Connor’s brainfart, the Primary Sector Council, released its ‘strategy’ on the eve of Christmas, last year.

National

Industry reacts to UK FTA

Primary industries stakeholders  are welcoming the new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United Kingdom announced today.

Historic FTA deal struck

Comprehensive, inclusive and high quality and providing fantastic opportunities for our exporters.

Tatua smashes $10 barrier

Waikato milk processor Tatua says keeping products moving to overseas customers during the pandemic was one of the highlights of…

Machinery & Products

Robo planter on the way

German farm machinery manufacturer Horsch says it is at an advanced stage of developing its aptly named Robo autonomous planter.

Keeping everyone safe

As tractors get larger and front linkage kits become more common, many have started fitting underrun or collision protection systems.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flag it!

OPINION: Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O'Connor tried to keep his latest overseas jaunt secret squirrel.

Oh dear!

OPINION: This old mutt suggests that farmers' growing discontent with Beef+Lamb NZ's performance is going to reach fever peak after…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter