Introduction to primary production legislation

The primary sector drives New Zealand's economy and provides employment to over 350,000 people. MPI oversees many of the regulations governing primary production.


New Zealand is the world's top dairy exporter, accounting for a third of the world's dairy trade. Dairy alone now accounts for 35% of New Zealand's total commodity export value. A well regulated dairy industry supports competition in the local market and ensures New Zealand farmers see the benefits from exporting their goods.

Relevant legislation

MPI administers the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 and its subsidiary regulations, the Dairy Industry (Herd Testing and New Zealand Dairy Core Database) Regulations 2001 and the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Raw Milk) Regulations 2012.

Meat and wool

Red meat is New Zealand's second most exported commodity. The majority of these exports are sheep and beef meat. New Zealand also farms pigs and poultry mainly for the local market. Smaller meat and wool industries include alpaca and goats.

Most of New Zealand's wool exports are 'strong wool', largely used in woollen carpets. A smaller proportion of exports are 'fine wool'; mostly used for garments, like merino wool from New Zealand's high country merino sheep.

The New Zealand meat and wool industries also produce other valuable products. These include inedible offal, hides, and pelts. In the deer industry, velvet is a valuable export for traditional Asian medicinal markets, particularly in the Republic of Korea.

Relevant legislation

The Meat Board Act 2004

This Act allows the New Zealand Meat Board to operate meat export quota management systems. Key markets with quotas include the European Union, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The Meat Board is responsible for developing methods to allocate the quota.

Commodities Levies Act 1990

The Commodity Levies (Meat) Order 2010 imposes a levy on beef and sheep meat produced by farmers. The levy must be paid to Beef and Lamb New Zealand (formerly Meat and Wool New Zealand), which is responsible for spending the levy as set out in its constitution.

A range of other regulatory frameworks are relevant to the meat and wool sectors, including:


Forestry is a significant industry in New Zealand. Logs and wood products are New Zealand's third largest export earner, contributing an annual gross income of around $5 billion and employing around 20,000 people.

The commercial industry is based around exotic plantation forests (radiata pine, Douglas-fir, eucalyptus and other species) covering 1.751 million hectares – approximately 7% of New Zealand's land area.

Relevant legislation

MPI is the Government's principal adviser on forestry, including policy development and engagement at the domestic and international level.

MPI administers the Forests Act 1949, Forestry Encouragement Act 1962, Forestry Rights Registration Act 1983, and the Forests (West Coast Accord) Act 2000. It also administers the Government's interests in commercial forestry through the Crown forestry unit, including forestry leases on Māori land and residual Crown forest assets. MPI manages forestry in the Emissions Trading Scheme, grants (like the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Erosion Control Funding Programme), and information and statistics on forestry production and trade.

In addition, the Commodity Levies (Harvested Wood Material) Order 2013 puts a levy on harvested forest products. This levy funds industry-good activities, like research on forest growing, for forest owners.

Councils currently manage the environmental effects of forestry activities through regional and district plans. From 1 May 2018, plantation forestry will be managed under new national regulations – the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF).

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