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New Zealand Fast Forward bold step forward

3 July 2008 Media Statement


New Zealand Fast Forward bold step forward

The first private sector contributors to the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative have showed their commitment to the joint industry-government venture, Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

Heads of agreement documents were signed by Jim Anderton and representatives of six cornerstone investor groups.

The cornerstone contributors are: (in alphabetical order) Dairy NZ, Fonterra, Meat and Wool NZ, Meat Industry Association, PGG Wrightsons, and Zespri.

Aquaculture NZ and the Foundation for Arable Research also made public commitments to contribute to the NZ Fast Forward initiative.

Jim Anderton said it was great to see the private sector respond so well to the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative.

"This is the single largest boost to innovation in New Zealand history. The Government has made its contribution, and I'm delighted to see the private sector moving to match it. It just shows that this initiative does have real value."

Dairy NZ chair John Luxton said investment in innovation was crucial for agricultural science.

"We have to strive to be one step ahead of our competitors in the global market to remain competitive. "

Fonterra chief executive Andrew Ferrier said the New Zealand Fast Forward fund will enable New Zealand to build on our competitive advantage in agriculture and food production, and complement the current investment in primary sector research.

"We have a chance to lead the world in sustainable on-farm productivity and processes for our commodity products and to extend our comparative advantages in higher value food ingredients and services.

"Fonterra will be one of the companies at the forefront of that innovation drive through the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative, which further builds on our own programme of research and development."

Meat and Wool NZ chief executive Mark Jeffries said that as a member of the Establishment Group representing the interests of sheep and beef farmers, Meat & Wool New Zealand had been pleased with the collaboration between officials and the industry cornerstone investors to develop the proposition.

"We look forward to an ongoing dialogue with these participants and others who see opportunities for the greater good of New Zealand.

"Meat & Wool New Zealand will be developing comprehensive market-led programmes alongside like-minded meat and wool commercial companies to present business-cases for investment to our farmer levy-payers. Sheep and Beef farmers are looking for better sustainable returns - the last three years have been tough. There is momentum for change among our farmers, and we see Fast Forward as useful catalyst to focus our efforts."

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said New Zealand's pastoral sector has a long history of world-leading innovation.

"The Fast Forward initiative will make a significant contribution to ensuring that this continues, and thereby growing New Zealand's international competitiveness.

"The Fast Forward design and establishment process has been innovative in itself, through both the recognition of commercial outcomes as the driving force behind innovation, and, in order to achieve that; the recognition that government, industry-good organisations and individual companies have investment interests at different parts of the R&D spectrum.

"This is a true display of collaboration between government and the private sector, and the meat processing and exporting industry looks forward to actively participating and driving significant outcomes."

PGG Wrightsons chief executive Paul Tocker said his company saw this as a great opportunity to take a leadership role in assisting farm clients to drive innovative, technological products to enable them to take their part in the marketplace of tomorrow.

Zespri director David Pilkington said ZESPRI strongly supported the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative, which aligned with our own strategy of investing in the necessary research and development in order to sustainably grow our industry in the longer term.

"As the kiwifruit industry's single desk marketer, ZESPRI already has the critical mass needed to fund significant levels of industry-good innovation investment.

"We see New Zealand Fast Forward as an opportunity to advance this investment more rapidly and look forward to helping lift New Zealand's profile as a leader in sustainable primary production."


ENDS

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