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Primary Industries In Good Shape To Respond To Drought And COVID-19

The primary sector’s strength, resilience and ability to respond to the effects of drought and the global impact of COVID-19 is highlighted by a new report out today.

The latest Situation Outlook for Primary Industries, from MPI, forecasts primary sector revenue will rise 0.5 per cent in the year to June 2020 to $46.5 billion.

"The sector is showing its underlying strength and resilience despite the challenging domestic drought and global conditions related to COVID-19,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“We saw strong performance across most of our primary industry exports in the first six months of the year, mostly as a result of growing demand and good prices in dairy, red meat and horticulture.”

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said the impact of COVID-19 disruptions on the rock lobster industry is clear in the SOPI forecasts, which estimate a 2.2 per cent fall in seafood export revenue.

“Despite the collapse of the rock lobster market in China there is room for the wider seafood industry to be optimistic,” he said. “Aquaculture earnings continue to grow and are expected to increase by more than 10 per cent in the current financial year.

“The SOPI notes that prices remain strong for hoki, there is high demand for squid, and salmon and mussel exports are growing. Anecdotal reports from our largest fishing port in Nelson also show that seafood exporters with diverse markets have had minimal disruptions from COVID-19.”

The Government is closely monitoring the situation the sector is facing and working with industry leaders to ensure New Zealand’s high-quality products continue to get to market despite the global trade issues created by COVID-19, O’Connor said.

“We know that our best economic defence is a strong health response that minimises the spread of the virus.

“The Government’s Business Continuity Package will support businesses feeling the effects of the global COVID-19 disruption. We’re also supporting our farmers and growers to get through the current drought in the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chathams with the comprehensive $2 million package announced today.”

Included in the package are drought co-ordinators and additional co-ordinators, a feed working group, animal welfare information and expertise and professional advice for recovery, he said.

"In my recent visits to farmers and growers across the country, I've seen the effort they are taking to deal with current conditions.

“While our forecasts show export revenue will take a number of short term hits, demand for New Zealand food and fibre products should continue to be strong in the longer term,” O’Connor said.

“There are still some good prices, compared to previous years, for many of our products, including dairy. The predicted growth in this sector in the face of current challenges is a credit to everyone's hard work and shows how people are calmly working through things.”

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