NZ agriculture must move away from low-cost model says scientist

Current threats and opportunities for agriculture in New Zealand were the focus of a presentation by Dr Alison Dewes, a veterinarian, ecologist and farmer, during an expert panel discussion on the theme 'Connection to place and environment'.

She said major disruption is on its way for our agriculture industry in terms of climate change, water quality, non-animal proteins, antibiotic resistance and losses of social licenses to operate; and that the inertia of our old way of doing things must change if our farmers are to meet the true external costs they now face.

“Agriculture is at a crossroads in New Zealand. We must move from being the Pak’nSave for the world as a low-cost commodity producer, to the farmers market for the global village,” she said.

“We must also learn to bridge the divide, where Tourism and Agriculture are locking horns over issues like water quality, and learn to lock hearts instead. If we’re going to keep farming animals and hope for continued access to markets, what story will we need to tell the world and how will we write that story?”

She said recent waterborne outbreaks of zoonotic disease have seen ‘clean and green’ New Zealand recently crowned as the campylobacter capital of the world?

“How did this happen and how is everything connected?”

Dr Dewes said healthy people, healthy ecosystems and healthy animals are key to a healthy future, but that all these things overlap.

“Current and future threats will therefore require coordinated cross-party and diverse skill sets to solve and for us to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment."