East Pier Hotel
50 Nelson Quay, Ahuriri
9.20am, Thursday 25 February 2021
Before I start, I want to take a moment to acknowledge how privileged we are to be here at the summer conference all together after what has been an unprecedented year. Even last night as an Aucklander it was looking a bit hairy, however, we are here and certainly looking forward to catching up over the next couple of days. The idea of getting this conference into the regions came about last year as part of one of many virtual calls the board participated within. The idea was to not only invest in the local communities but provide members with an opportunity to catch up socially. Even then we didn’t think it would be one of the first opportunities to meet. Thank you for making the effort and we welcome any feedback on this change to the summer conference (as long as it's positive)
The past year has unquestionably been one of the most challenging for our industry and continues to be extremely testing for many people in New Zealand and even more so for many people around the globe. Our industry has worked hard to support our farmers to keep our economy and food supply going. We’ve faced a number of hurdles such as lockdowns, shipping constraints, airfreight hikes, mixed messages, being isolated or not isolated enough if your home schooling, and we’ve been talking to our screens and switching in to news updates more that we might have ever dreamed of.
It’s certainly challenged us all, but it’s also created strength and resilience, for each of us, for our businesses, and for our industry. It’s our perseverance that has enabled us to stay strong and maintain our vision of healthy crops, healthy animals, healthy business.
It’s also shined a light on agriculture and how essential it is to maintain a healthy and abundant food supply for our health and wellbeing but also for our economy; our export market; and the future of our country. We are an agricultural nation, and animal medicines and crop protection products are vital for the success of our primary industries.
We must continue to maintain the supply chain for our essential services, support our farmers to help boost our economy, maintain our exports, and ensure the health of our crops, our people and our animals. This is not a responsibility we take lightly
Our farmers face the challenges of growing more food and fibre with less available land. They are also being asked to continual improve, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, keep up or even lead international best practice, minimise residues and manage resistance.
To do it, they need the latest technology and the most effective and sustainable animal medicines and crop protection solutions available.
A predictable, science-based regulatory environment is essential to support the supply of innovative and quality products to manage pests and diseases in crops and animals.
The regulatory environment for new product approvals needs to be modernised, and science-based decision-making must be front of mind. Decisions made on facts and evidence, not political popularity or social media pressure. We cannot afford to restrict a sector that is so essential for the wellbeing of our people, our economy and our animals.
The long-term effects of Covid-19 will bring opportunities for the rural sector, and we are in an ideal position to continue to improve and transform these opportunities locally. Some of these opportunities and examples we will see tomorrow. For example, at no time have incentives to use robotics and precision agriculture been as high. These technologies bring so many benefits including reducing the reliance on manual labour and a greater understanding of the plant, environment, pest and/or disease to ensure a more informed decision can be made
So how do we do all this sustainably? We do it by meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. A better future is one that prioritises the planet, people, and profit - because we all need natural, social and economic resources.
The difficulty is preventing one of them from deterring the development of any of the others, so they are equally as robust. We all need to ask ourselves how our businesses ensure a more sustainable future for all? And, ultimately, how can we support the planet, people and profit, so none are out of balance?
The challenges that the year threw at us show that it’s never been more important for us to have a united voice for animal health and crop science.
The Agcarm team is engaging with the new Government and raising awareness of our issues. Our fingers are in a lot of different pies, and we remain focused on ensuring that members gain value out of belonging to our organisation. Rest assured that Agcarm will continue to show leadership in supporting our end goal of producing safe and healthy food.
On that note, I would like to thank Mark Ross and the team for tackling the number of issues that have arisen over the year and for helping members to navigate through them. Agcarm has remained in constant contact with members to provide guidance and assurance, and to be a single source of the truth for relevant information between the government and the members. I’m sure that I speak for all of us when I say that this has been hugely appreciated and has saved a lot of angst and extra work. Thanks also to Melanie Murray for all her work in organising this conference.
We also farewelled Jan Quay, after seventeen years as Agcarm’s animal health expert, last year. Jan’s replacement, Jeff Howe, joined the team as technical manager in December. He has quickly adapted to the Agcarm environment and is taking the lead on animal health issues.
He has already started working with KPMG on the animal medicines report, which will cover New Zealand’s animal medicines market, its worth and its value. It will be the animal health version of the crop protection report that we commissioned NZIER to do in 2019.
This report is due to be released at our annual conference on July 21. These reports help in our advocacy work and help create awareness of our value to the general public. I’m looking forward to reading the findings, as I’m sure are our animal health members.
Finally, I would like to wrap up by welcoming our new members.
I would like to welcome Jamie Wallace from A S Harrison and Co.
As of yesterday, I would also like to welcome Jane Lamb, General Manager of the New Zealand Agrichemical Education Trust.
Welcome, Jamie and Jane! As you can see here today, you are part of a growing and vibrant organisation.
We have some varied and interesting topics on the agenda today –
and some great opportunities to see farming innovation first-hand tomorrow, for those who can join us. It’s great to be able to support our regional communities as we bring more of our events around the country.
Enjoy the day and please feel free to discuss any ideas, solutions or challenges with myself or Mark Ross.