Wednesday, 24 June 2020 07:58

UK-NZ free trade talks on

Written by  Peter Burke
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and British PM Boris Johnson are both keen to secure a free trade deal. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and British PM Boris Johnson are both keen to secure a free trade deal.

Dairy processors say the launch of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between New Zealand and the UK is a positive development.

Dairy Companies of NZ (DCANZ) chairman Malcolm Bailey says a high-quality and comprehensive FTA between the United Kingdom and New Zealand will further strengthen the historic and close relationship between the two countries. 

At a time when a number of countries are reverting to trade protectionist policies and subsidies, it is heartening to see like-minded countries like NZ and the UK showing leadership on trade issues, he says.

Currently, the UK is only a small market for New Zealand dairy exports, accounting for 0.08% of New Zealand’s dairy exports in 2019.  This is despite the fact that the UK is one of the world’s largest importers of dairy products.

“The UK’s previous membership of the European Union (EU), one of the most protected dairy markets globally, has severely limited the opportunity for its consumers to purchase high quality NZ dairy products,” says Bailey.

“Now that the UK is able to negotiate its own trade arrangements, a UK-NZ FTA will provide important commercial opportunities for dairy sector participants in both countries.”

Bailey says the NZ and the UK dairy sectors are complementary, with counter-seasonal production systems and a shared interest in managing price volatility globally.  Both countries also place a high level of importance on food safety, animal welfare and environmental outcomes.  

Bailey says the UK dairy industry is also efficient, with a long-history of competing against highly subsidised dairy exports from across the EU.

“An FTA between the UK and New Zealand will ensure that unsubsidised New Zealand dairy products have the same level of market access as has been enjoyed by European dairy products over the past four decades,” he says.

Trade Minister David Parker announced the launch of the FTA talks last week, with the first round of negotiations expected to take place by video conference from mid-July.

This comes a week after the EU made a poor offer to NZ on agriculture as part of the FTA negotiations between the two jurisdictions.

Parker hailed the start of the negotiations saying that as the UK embarks on its next steps post-Brexit, NZ is pleased to be among the first countries to negotiate a trade agreement with one of our “oldest friends”.

“We look forward to an FTA that opens up more opportunities for small and medium sized businesses, Māori exporters, and our regional communities, consistent with our ‘Trade for All’ objectives,” he says.

Parker says NZ and the UK have a close relationship, including strong trade and economic ties, common values and traditions and a shared history. He says an FTA will be an important new milestone in that relationship and adds that in the post Brexit environment, it makes more sense than ever for NZ to be working together to grow this partnership for the future.

“As the global economy continues to be severely impacted by the effects of Covid-19, we are more committed than ever to concluding a bilateral FTA capable of delivering significant benefits to the people of both New Zealand and the UK,” he says.

Both sides have committed to achieving an early conclusion to a high quality, comprehensive and inclusive trade agreement, something NZ and the EU are currently struggling to do. Britain is NZ’s sixth largest trading partner with two-way trade worth almost $6 billion last year.

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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