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June 17, 1997
The New Zealand agriculture sector experienced another year of mixed fortunes in 1996/97, reports the Ministry of Agriculture in its 1997 edition of "Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture", released today.
MAF says sheepmeat and beef, having been hard hit in recent years, are seeing some recovery, though demand for wool has fallen further. The dairy sector is performing well, though international markets have been less favourable. Confidence in the deer industry remains high.
Of the major horticultural industries, apples and kiwifruit continue to face tough competition in world markets. Southern hemisphere apple exports are increasing, but 1997 export prices gave reasonable returns for those orchards not affected by hailstorms. Market conditions have improved for kiwifruit, as a smaller crop and higher prices from reduced exports are expected this year
Family Farm Under Threat?
While each of the industries making up New Zealand agriculture faces particular challenges, MAF says several larger trends are discernible that affect the whole sector. The past year has seen increasing speculation about the future of the family farm in New Zealand, arising from long standing trends, notably the ever-expanding area required to form an economically viable farm unit. Editor Ronnie Horesh writes "Unlike other countries where farmers can call on agricultural sentimentalism and nostalgia to ply their cause, there is little room for sentimentality in New Zealand agriculture. The range of factors that will influence the viability of the family farm in New Zealand is a wide one, but there is now no expectation that financial support from government will be one of them."
MAF says that long term real agricultural commodity prices appear to be maintaining a downward trend -outlined in a special article "Exchange rate impacts on farm income" - and shows that income from off-farm activities is important now for many farm families.
Agricultural Production Falls …
But Revenues Up
Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture is available from MAF or Bennetts Bookshops.