The government funding, over a five-year period, will help contribute to improved genetic research to enable New Zealand producers to gain new traits to benefit farmers, according to science and innovation minister Steven Joyce.
He said: “Science and innovation are major drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness. The government is committed to ensuring we invest in purpose-driven research that benefits New Zealand.
“Genetic improvement in the sheep industry has contributed greatly to farm profitability and, for every dollar captured on-farm, another 50 cents is captured off-farm. In just 10 years, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics expect that farmers will receive NZ$5.90 extra profit per lamb sold at that time.”
The news has been welcomed by Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Mike Petersen, who described the funding as a “pleasing show of confidence” in the sector, and one that could help to boost profitability for farmers.
He said: “This investment supports a whole range of research, identifying new breeding traits that will produce more efficient animals and those that meet consumer preferences in our valuable export markets. We’re especially interested in further developing the traits that thrive on hill country, as this is where an increasing proportion of New Zealand sheep and beef production is based these days, with changing land use to dairy.”
He added that the work to speed up genetic gain and finding good traits could help the country stay ahead of its competitors.
Joyce added: “Investing in genetics will help improve meat quality, contribute directly to improving on-farm profitability, and ensure we’re meeting the needs of consumers.
“As a nation, we are already leading the world in pastoral animal and plant genetics. This partnership will help us maintain this critical position and to continue to build on it through further research and development in sheep and beef genetics.”
The government funds are expected to be matched with funding from farmers and the wider industry through Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics. Further funding has also been sought from the private sector and other sources, and the total fund is expected to top NZ$44m over the five years.