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Chairman emphasises significance of agriculture

23 February 2006

Chairman emphasises significance of agriculture to Labour's MPs

Chairman of Meat & Wool New Zealand, Jeff Grant said today he was pleased with the interest shown by the Members of Parliament in the meat and wool sector recently.

Earlier this week Mr Grant and Meat & Wool New Zealand's chief executive Mark Jeffries presented to the Labour Caucus as part of a promotion of the activities of the organisation in the lead-up to its annual general meeting.

"We took the opportunity to emphasise the economic significance of the agricultural sector to New Zealand to the politicians, Mr Grant said.

"The agricultural sector remains as important to the New Zealand economy as it did 124 years ago when we first shipped our meat across the world."

"Since 1990/91 the agricultural sector's contribution to our gross national product has grown 98% while other industries contributions have grown 51%.

"It is important the government continues to look upon the agricultural sector as an investment in New Zealand's economy," he said.

"New Zealand is a first world economy, reliant on its exports. The agricultural sector remains the dominant contributor to our GDP."

Mr Grant said this is because the sector has learned how to work smarter and work in collaboration, across the sector.

"In 1970/71, 90% of our export lambs were sent overseas in carcase form. Today it's less than five percent. This highlights the significant product development that has occurred in the New Zealand meat industry over the last 30 years."

Mr Grant told the Labour MPs there are now hundreds of different lamb cuts exported.

"The agricultural sector has wisely invested in research and development and is now seeing the benefits of applied farm-based technology. This is showing how much smarter we have become in our production and processing."

He commented that while wool prices have dropped recently, New Zealand is still exporting 92% of the wool clip.

The Labour Caucus was told how Meat & Wool New Zealand is developing a campaign to promote the variety of career options throughout the sector.

"The New Zealand economy remains reliant on exports, and the natural-resource-based agricultural sector is the significant player in the economy.

ENDS

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