New Zealand leads the world when it comes to agricultural innovation with the dairy industry alone accounting for over a third of the world’s international dairy trade. Our products feed more than 100 million people worldwide and the industry contributes 25% of New Zealand’s merchandise export earnings. There are 6.5 million dairy cattle in New Zealand and the average herd size is just over 400. A stocking rate of 2.85 cows per hectare is common and the majority of herds are pastoral based and spring calving. Beef cattle total over 3.7 million, sheep 31 million and deer over 1 million. Meat exports are in excess of $5 billion per annum. Horticulture is another major contributor of export funds – with the wine and kiwifruit industry each contributing over US$1 billion. Apples, avocados, olives, onions, potatoes and squash also cover a significant area of land. Our aquaculture industry is dominated by mussels, oysters and salmon. Forestry contributes around $5 billion to the NZ economy employing around 20,000 people. Wood products are New Zealand’s third largest export earner behind dairy and meat. New Zealand agriculture is supported by many industry bodies such as AgResearch that is investing $100 million in new science innovation hubs.
Many New Zealand companies lead the world when it comes to agriculture, with dairy farming alone accounting for one third of the world’s international trade.
Agriculture in New Zealand is the largest sector of the tradable economy. The New Zealand agricultural sector is unique in being the only developed country to be totally exposed to the international markets since subsidies, tax concessions and price supports were removed in the 1980s.
New Zealand’s temperate climate, natural environment and disease-free animal populations make it ideally suited to the pastoral farming system, where farmers maximise production by converting grass and other forages to dairy and meat through the efficient management of seasonal grass growth.