OPINION: Remember when Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, about a year ago, launched his new baby the Primary Sector Council (PSC) to a whole lot of fanfare and cost to the taxpayer?
The Ministry for Primary Industries’ latest Situation and Outlook forecasts New Zealand's primary industry exports are to increase by 3.8% for the year ending June 2019 to $44.3 billion.
The forecast has been increased $505 million from the previous September forecast round.
“There’s a lot to be positive about when strong consumer demand for high-value produce and good growing conditions have, in just the past three months, nudged up forecasts by an extra half a billion dollars,” says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
“This shows primary sector exports will continue to be a strong contributor to the New Zealand economy, which is forecast to grow at about 3% a year over the next few years.
Primary sector export growth is due to a range of positive pointers that also reflect the importance of moving away from volatile raw commodity markets and into markets offering sustainable, premium returns.
In particular for dairy farmers, good weather means plenty of grass and greater milk production at a time of growth in value-added products.
O’Connor says this is set to be the fourth year in a row dairy export returns have risen following the dairy downturn of 2015 and this is why it’s vital we add value to every litre of milk produced in New Zealand.
“Horticulturists are benefiting from strong consumer demand for sought-after produce, and foresters have had a strong first quarter for log and sawn timber exports.
“The results are promising but there are uncertainties in the global marketplace such as the trade dispute between the US and China and Brexit, which means instability across commodity prices, exchange rates and equities.
“As the outlook notes, there is increased risk beyond 2019 and this is why the Coalition Government is pursuing high-quality free trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“For future growth, we need to get more value for what we produce now, and we are focused on helping our primary sector to achieve this sustainable, value-added growth that ultimately benefits all New Zealanders,” O’Connor said