Week in Review

In Aotearoa, crown research institute, AgResearch, and the Leather & Shoe Research Association of NZ are collaborating to develop a new technology to detect flaws in raw hides using hyperspectral imaging prior to hides undergoing processing. Faulty hides are converted into high-value products such as proteins for nutraceutical and biomaterial applications. The new development is projected to result in annual industry benefits of $35 million. Following the release of the government’s Budget, the scientific community has expressed disappointment due to significant cuts to funding for science, innovation and technology. Cuts to initiatives like the National Science Challenges has seen the primary sector’s research capacity impacted, with concern about the industry losing scientists to foreign countries. As part of the conclusion of the regional banking hubs trial, New Zealand’s five major banks have extended their commitment not to close regional branches for the next three years. Despite being welcomed by their communities, the multi-bank hubs trialled had lower usage than many comparable regional branches or ATMs. The Women in Seed conference was held in Christchurch to a sold-out capacity audience. Speakers included crown research institute Plant and Food Research’s principal scientist Professor Andrew Allen who highlighted that embracing gene editing and developing new genetic technologies will be essential in accelerating crop development to stay competitive globally and adapt swiftly to the rapidly changing climate.

In international news, the World Bank has announced it has increased its initial fund to tackle food insecurity from US $30 to $45 billion (NZ $48.5 to $72.7 billion). Their food and nutrition insecurity portfolio now spans 90 countries, with a particular focus on Africa. The initiative is expected to benefit 335 million individuals, representing 44% of the malnourished global population; 53% of the people who will benefit from it are women. In the United States, a third human case of H5N1 avian influenza has been reported, but health authorities say that the risk to humans remains low. The virus has now been detected in 68 dairy herds in nine states. In Australia, hundreds of trucks and farm vehicles protested in Perth, in response to the federal government's announced ban on live sheep exports by 2028. Western Australia accounts for nearly all of Australia’s live sheep exports, valued at AU $85.2 million (NZ $91.6 million). In Europe, the European Union Commission plans to incorporate simplification and flexibility into the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The reformed CAP aims to reward farmers for additional work regarding climate and environment objectives. It is anticipated to come into force in 2028 and will maintain a focus on achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Spotlight Stories

Research Spotlight:

a line of cows in a paddock

Multibillion-euro fund opens door for NZ [31 May, Farmers Weekly]

Lincoln Agritech is the first New Zealand research organisation to successfully access the Horizon Europe research funding programme, an almost €9 billion (NZ $15.6 billion) fund that opens Europe’s resources and researchers to companies keen to collaborate. Horizon Europe has six funding clusters, with the €8.9 billion (NZ $15.6 billion) fund dedicated to research in the areas of food, bioeconomy, natural resources, and agriculture-environment. Lincoln Agritech’s project is in developing digital technology to support plant health early detection, specialising in apple pest monitoring. New Zealand's reputation for high-quality biosecurity systems was identified as unique and appealing to European partners, the southern hemisphere opposite seasons also adds appeal. To date, there have been 61 submissions involving New Zealand partners submitted to the Horizon Europe fund, and out of the 23 decisions made so far, seven have been successful, including Lincoln Agritech’s. Original full article here

Tags: agritech; funding; research; global collaboration

Animal Welfare Spotlight:

baskets filled with eggs

Kipster is second firm in US to commit to in ovo sexing tech to end culling of male chicks [30 May, AgFunderNews]

Dutch egg producer, Kipster, which sells its certified humane and carbon neutral eggs into the United States (US), has become the second company in the US to pledge to implementing in-ovo sexing technology as an alternative to culling male chicks. Currently in the US, when eggs hatch after 21 days, trained individuals are hired to determine their sex. In the US, male chicks have no value to the food industry, due to a lack of demand for their meat and their inability to lay eggs and are therefore culled. The in-ovo sexing technology determines the sex of chicks prior to hatching, Kipster will use allantoic sampling, which involves extracting a small amount of liquid from eggs around day nine of incubation and testing for biomarkers to identify the sex of an egg. Original full article here

Tags: eggs; chicks; technology; allantonic sampling

Headline Stories

A tractor plowing dry farmland

China enacts first food security law to ensure ‘absolute self-sufficiency’ in staple grains [3 June, Firstpost]

China’s first food security law aiming for complete self-sufficiency came into effect on 1 June. The legislation provides a legal structure to raise food production, including the protection of farmland, germplasm resources, and preventing wastage. The law holds central and provincial governments responsible for integrating food security into their economic and development strategies. However, experts argue that the law's language is ambiguous and may not have a substantial effect on China's efforts to increase food production, essentially formalising current methods in legislation without necessarily altering them. Original full article here

Tags: food security; legislation; self-reliance

fish swimming in between seaweed

Govt challenged as ‘methane mitigation tech sidelined in NZ’ [31 May, Farmers Weekly]

New Zealand parliamentarians have been challenged on the nation’s regulations for Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM). The founder of CH4 Global, the company using red seaweed to mitigate methane emissions, presented to the parliamentary select committee last week on the Regulatory Systems (primary industries) Amendment Bill. The irony for a company like CH4 Global is that they produce tonnes of their seaweed product in New Zealand but are unable to sell it to New Zealand farmers with claims about its methane mitigation ability. Despite the need for methane mitigation technology, New Zealand’s ACVM regulations have resulted in a lack of both domestic and international interest in the New Zealand market as companies are required to meet the onerous standards of veterinary medicine. New Zealand Food Safety defended the government's decision to regulate inhibitors under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Act, citing risks to animal welfare, trade, public health, food safety, and biosecurity. The government is exploring streamlining the current legislation for inhibitors and considering if certain groups of inhibitor products could be exempted from registration. Original full article here

Tags: regulation; red seaweed; methane mitigation; inhibitors

Stack of silver coins the seedlings are growing on top with arrow of growth and green business icons on wooden cube

Climate Finance Programme for Developing Nations is Funnelling Billions Back to Rich Countries [4 June, Green Queen]

A new investigation by news agency Reuters and Big Local News, a Stanford University journalism programme, has suggested that wealthy nations are directing climate funds to developing nations in methods that financially benefit themselves. In 2009, US $100 billion (NZ $160 billion) was pledged by developed nations to support low- and middle-income nations to cut emissions and adapt to climate change. The investigation analysed OECD data and found that at least US $18 billion (NZ $29 billion) has been loaned at market interest rates, not the norm for climate and other aid-related loans. In addition, another US $11 billion (NZ $18 billion) in loans required recipients to hire or purchase materials from companies in the lending countries. The investigation raises questions around the fairness and transparency of climate finance and whether there should be greater scrutiny on the terms and conditions. Original full article here

Tags: emission reduction; climate change; funding; developing countries

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Audit – Auckland
Ian Proudfoot
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Andrew Watene

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Justine Fitzmaurice
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Hamish McDonald 

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Brent Love

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Paulette Elliott
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