The arable industry is a small, but vital part of New Zealand’s primary industries. Traditionally, the arable industry focused on production of cereal crops (wheat, barley and maize) and rye grass seed, but in recent years to optimise profitability and productivity, the industry has diversified to include production of other cereal grain crops, specialist small seed and vegetable crops, forage brassicas, and seed for multiplication. New Zealand’s weed, pest and disease free status means that arable farmers are world leaders in seed production for multiplication onto the international market. Growers of cereal grains supply 25 per cent of wheat used to produce New Zealand bread, all beer made in New Zealand is produced using domestically produced malting barley. Growers also produce a significant amount of feed which goes into the livestock industry and also produce all the pasture grasses used by this sector. According to the BERL report, the arable industry contributed $737m to GDP in 2015.
The views of members of the Arable Industry Group are represented by the Industry Group Council (consisting of Arable Chairpersons from most Federated Farmers provinces), an elected Executive and Chairperson. Federated Farmers Arable focuses on developing sensible policy to influence local, regional and central Government, wider industry and community groups. Activities of recent years include:
- Biosecurity including velvetleaf, pea weevil and blackgrass responses, and submitting on draft Import Health Standards of interest
- Ensuring that the fire permitting for crop residue burning is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all parties involved
- Seed certification
- Review of the Plant Variety Rights Act
- Arable Industry Promotion.