The trend is up for New Zealand's primary industry exports but the risks are growing, rendering biosecurity a leading priority, says the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Primary industry exports are forecast to have grown 11.8 percent in the year ending June 2018 to $42.6 billion, $1 billion more than forecast, according to MPI's latest Situation and Outlook.
Meat and wool, dairy, and forestry are the main sources of change in the forecast from last year, MPI said. The meat and wool forecast is $940 million higher for 2018 as red meat prices have risen at a higher than anticipated pace this season. Meal and wool exports are expected to reach $9.39 billion in the year to June 30, it said.
The dairy sector forecast decreased $690 million due to lower whole milk powder prices and less butter being exported than anticipated. Dairy exports were likely $16.6 billion. Continued high demand for logs to China has driven prices higher than forecast a year ago and resulted in an upward revision for the forestry sector of $480 million with forestry exports tipped to reach $6.35 billion.
The forecast for 2019 has also been revised up over the past year by $820 million and overall annual export growth is expected to range between 1.2 percent-to-2.6 percent between 2019 and 2022, with primary sector exports forecast to exceed $46 billion by the end of the outlook period, it said.
Given its massive economic importance - contributing around 11 percent of economic growth between primary production and processing - it's vital it be protected.
"The size of New Zealand’s biosecurity challenge is increasing, as recent incursions such as Mycoplasma bovis, myrtle rust, and the oyster parasite Bonamia ostreae serve to remind us ... we need to improve the biosecurity system, which is under increasing pressure," said Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor. His comments were echoed by KPMG in its recently released Agribusiness Agenda 2018.
A strong biosecurity system continues to be ranked the leading priority in its 2018 Agribusiness Agenda Priorities Survey - hitting a new record priority score of 9.62 on a scale of 1 out of 10. KPMG uses an online survey tool and received responses from around 60 industry leaders.
According to KPMG, the "industry needs to step up and take ownership of its biosecurity exposures."
Farmers must provide staff with biosecurity awareness training so they can spot risk factors. Processors need to present a united front in only purchasing correctly documented stock.
"Mycoplasma bovis has highlighted the risk associated with implementing rules and then not enforcing them," it said.
Biosecurity New Zealand, which forms part of MPI, is about to launch a massive public awareness campaign around biosecurity after polling showed that only 2 percent of New Zealanders surveyed think that biosecurity has a "personal impact" on their lives, Biosecurity NZ head Roger Smith said this week.