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Best-practice project to improve returns

6 August 2004

Best-practice project to improve returns from farming

Agriculture, already Northland’s biggest earner, could contribute even more to the regional economy as a result of a new, three-year “best-practice” project.

Farming brings about $800 million a year in direct income into the Northland region, with more than half coming from dairying, followed by beef and sheep.

However, the industry is believed to have greater potential, and encouraging the use of “best-practice” farming methods on existing Northland farms is one way of extracting that potential.

The Enterprise Northland Pastoral Development Group has designed a project to increase performance in the region and has secured more than $100,000 in funding from the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry’s Sustainable Farming Fund. Other contributors to the project include NZ Trade & Enterprise and the private sector.

“The sheer size of the industry means that even small gains in productivity could have a big dollar impact for Northland,” says development group chairman Laurie Copland. “A one percent gain in earnings equates to an extra $8 million a year coming into the region.”

“Improving performance also helps to reduce our reliance on commodity prices and the effects of fluctuating exchange rates.”
Mr Copland said the project will give farmers the tools to increase productivity by making research information more readily available. “Too often, relevant research work has been done but farmers don’t know about it.”

“Much of the past research has either not been written up or has only been published in scientific journals, which are not commonly accessed by farmers and other farming professionals.”

“In addition, repeated distribution of material is often valuable to new farmers, or farmers who have only recently become aware of an issue.”

Mr Copland said the Pastoral Development Group’s successful funding application to the Sustainable Farming Fund had been helped by the fact that the group brings together representatives from the dairy, beef and sheep sectors, as well as service providers, suppliers and agricultural consultants.

ENDS

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