O'Connor said that the food and fibre industries were the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, delivering more than $42 billion in export revenue last year.
He added that the Coalition Government wanted to help extract more value from the sector in a manner which would preserve natural resources for future generations.
“We’ve taken the best of two MPI investment programmes – the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership – to create Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures, or SFF Futures,” he said.
“We are moving from volume to value. New Zealand’s commodity growth drive has come at the expense of the vital natural resources we need for our primary sector – our soil, water and social license to operate.
“With a budget of $40 million a year, SFF Futures provides a single gateway for farmers and growers to apply for investment in a greater range of projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits that flow through to all Kiwis.
“Targeted funding rounds may include projects focusing on specific outcomes, such as climate change or the environment.”
O’Connor made the announcement on a farm in Morrinsville alongside the launch of a project to tap into the high-value, New Zealand goat milk infant formula industry.
Get the goat
Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ) is a five-year, $29.65 million PGP programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd.
"Our CAPRINZ PGP programme aims to strengthen the position of goats' milk infant formula as the preferred alternative to conventional milk infant formula," said Dairy Goat Cooperative chief executive David Hemara.
"We recognise breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for babies and infants. Our aim through this PGP programme with MPI is to target consumers in New Zealand and overseas by meeting demand in situations wherebreastfeedingg requires supplementation or isn't feasible."
The CAPRINZ PGP programme will develop tools to enable New Zealand goat farmers to measure and improve their performance, while ensuring any economic gains don't come at the expense of the rural environment.
"Because many dairy goat farm systems use off-paddock animal housing facilities there's the opportunity to decrease the environmental impact of pastoral farming through conversions from other farming systems," said Hemara. "Our programme aims to increase dairy goat numbers in the long term by 50% to over 100,000."
MPI director-general Martyn Dunne says the CAPRINZ PGP programme expects to deliver a number of industry-wide benefits.
"In addition to the economic benefits, the CAPRINZ PGP programme also aims to create more than 400 new jobs on-farm, improve dairy goat farming practice and sustainable production, and boost capability across the industry."
"It will also grow New Zealand's research capability in the science of high-value nutrition and health, and establish a dairy goat research farm to deliver and trial its innovations."
SFF Futures will be open for applications from October. Find out more here.