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New Zealand agribusiness

New Zealand's dairy sector will remain the outperformer within the agricultural industry over the long term, especially given the sector's increasing export opportunities to Asia. The export market will remain important, particularly since New Zealand's domestic market is small and economic growth over the next few years is forecast to be subdued. There are other long-term production risks to the industry as well, particularly as grain production (notably barley) has seen little increase in recent years and the livestock sector could suffer from reduced margins owing to burgeoning environmental regulations and higher feed costs. Nevertheless, the government has made several efforts to improve the competitiveness of New Zealand's exports through free trade agreements and the sector will remain a key driver for the economy over the long term.

Key Trends

- Milk production growth to 2014/15: 16% to 20mn tonnes. Long-term expansion will mainly come from export opportunities, particularly to Asia and the Middle East, which are forecast to see significant dairy consumption growth out to 2015.
- Corn consumption growth to 2015: 18% to 213,500 tonnes. Our positive growth forecasts for livestock, which uses the grains as feed, account most prominently into our forecasts for steady demand growth for grains over the next four years.
- Cheese production growth to 2014/15: 8% to 345,000 tonnes. For all the dairy sub-sectors, export opportunities (particularly to China) will be the main growth driver over the medium term.
- 2011 Real GDP Growth: 1.5% (up from 1.8% in 2010; predicted to average 2.6% from 2010 until 2015).
- Central Bank Policy Rate: 3% for 2011 (same as 2010).

Industry Developments

Droughts in New Zealand threaten the country's dairy outlook for 2010/11 and pose downside risks to our forecast for milk production to expand by 6.9% to reach 17.8mn tonnes in 2011.With demand for dairy expected to continue growing in 2011, these weather developments could squeeze production and further elevate milk prices. Waikato, New Zealand's largest dairy region, was declared a drought zone on December 15. According to reports, although the region has received around 70mm of rain, it is some 50mm short from reaching the optimal level of rainfall.

In an effort to give beef producers a boost, the New Zealand government has continued to push talks for a free trade agreement with the US, which will include several other Pacific Rim nations in what is being billed the 'TransPacific Partnership' agreement. According to Beef And Lamb NZ, the key talking points are a reduction of the current US beef import tariff from USc4.4/kg to zero, as well as the elimination of an over-quota tariff rate. As of December 8 2010, the talks had reached their fourth stage and the directors of the New Zealand contingent were confident that an agreement could be reached.

In late 2010, the New Zealand government established the Animal Welfare (Pigs) Code of Welfare 2010, which follows on a similar protocol for beef and sheep established in March 2010. The two plans encourage farmers responsible in the production of pork and beef to adopt and maintain the highest standards of husbandry and care. A particular facet is the use of farrowing crates and dry sow stalls, which are now being phased out. The stalls, which are used for mating and gestation purposes, have been criticised in the past for keeping the pigs confined, usually for extended periods. As such, the limitation of the use of the stalls implies that pigs in particular (they are used for pigs more frequently than cattle) will have greater freedom of movement over the course of their lives.

by S. C.
12 march 2011, World News > Oceania