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Sutton Speech: SAMsn project launch

SAMsn project launch

Jim Sutton Speech Notes

Sustainable Ag-Hort Management Systems Network, Wellington

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Two years ago, at the launch of the beginning of this project, I said that sustainable management was incredibly important for all primary producers.

"There was a time in New Zealand when agriculture was all about making two sheep graze where one had grazed before, about making two blades of grass grow where only one had grown before. Nothing else mattered.

It is quite different now.

Now farmers, foresters, and orchardists are well aware of environmental issues ? as is the New Zealand community as a whole. We all now work to ensure that our activities are sustainable ? economically, socially, and environmentally ? and that possibilities are enhanced for our children and grandchildren."

This is even more relevant now.

Consumers are increasingly demanding that producers supply information not only on their products and what is in them, but how they were grown and what processes they have been subject to as well. Whether we think some of those demands are over the top or not, if we want to supply those markets we have to be able to comply.

And sometimes that can be difficult or costly.

This project has grown from early beginnings in the Quality Assurance/Environmental Management Systems Group in 1997, as a result of a report written for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policy Unit on the links between sustainable agriculture outcomes and QA/EMS systems.

Its establishment in 2000 was prompted by industry concern about the proliferation of industry on-farm environmental management and quality assurance programmes, and the need to ensure that both sustainability and profitability were incorporated in the approach to agriculture and horticulture.

As they say, it's very hard to be green when you're in the red.

The project identifies the commonalities of New Zealand's environmental management systems and quality assurance programmes currently in use in agriculture and horticulture. The resulting research report "The SAMsn Initiative: Advancing Sustainable Management Systems in Agriculture and Horticulture" led to the identification of a need for an information hub of resources.

The information hub in the form of a web page www.samsn.org.nz will help industries decide whether a sustainable management tool is needed for their business and, if so, the components they need to consider for their system.

Fonterra's requirements for its shareholders to be online and the Government's continued rollout of broadband Internet services to the regions through Project Probe should ensure that rural communities are able to access this hub effectively.

Almost half the funding for this project has come from Government through the Sustainable Farming Fund.

This partnership to facilitate progress in particular sectors is how the Government likes to work, and it has driven the funding decisions made in the latest Budget.

Partnership ensures that industry has commitment to the proposed measures, and it helps ensure the proposed measures are useful and focused.

This year's Budget contained for close to half a billion dollars over the next four years for strengthening economic performance. The investments range from spending on skills, to developing our export markets, increasing our R & D spend, and attracting quality offshore investment.

Most of that funding will involve partnership with exporters and would-be exporters.

Ladies and Gentlemen: the land-based industries are important ones for New Zealand ? economically, environmentally, and socially. This Government has a demonstrable commitment to these industries, as shown by this project in particular.

Congratulations to all the people and organizations involved in bringing it to fruition, and I wish you all the best in the future.

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