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Latest Articles from Line 7 Terrain

How is New Zealand’s farming bounty being exported across the world?

New Zealand is famous around the world for its broad expanses of green, rolling farmland. Indeed, our farms are home to a veritable army of livestock, which includes some 31.1 million sheep and 10.1 million cows, according to Statistics New Zealand. The nation's livestock doesn't simply stay in New Zealand, though, as meat and dairy products from our shores end up in supermarkets around the world.

Te Ara, the online encyclopaedia of New Zealand, states that the country doesn't sell just a small portion of its farm product abroad – some 95 per cent of our dairy products alone end up overseas. The Asian market continues to command a huge slice of Aotearoa's dairy farming pie, and dairy exports to the rest of the world total some NZ$15.5 billion per annum, according to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.

Though our country's farming exports are well known – Fonterra is, after all, behind one-third of the world's dairy sales – what else does New Zealand contribute to the world with regards to farming? More than you might think, actually.

A Mexican stand-off

In 2011, an cavernous container ship named Nada was refitted into a livestock carrier in the South Island city of Timaru. Earlier this year, the Nada set sail from that famous port with some 50,000 sheep and 3,000 cattle on board, bound for Mexico. Why were they heading there? Animal rights activists claimed that the animals were destined for slaughter, but the truth is a much happier one.

Meat and dairy products from our shores end up in supermarkets around the world.

The Ministry for Primary Industries stated that they were for intended for use as breeding stock on farms that had been devastated by the drought season. Eventually, this will help to repopulate the arid grounds owned by Mexican farmers, helping an untold amount of needy Mexicans to support themselves by means of farming.

Helping fellow sheep farmers

This brings a full circle to a similar event that occurred 35 years ago, when 3,000 sheep left our shores, headed for Mexico's. Leith Pemberton, a Kiwi man with great expertise in sheep farming, took receipt of those Suffolk and Corriedale breeds on the model sheep farm on the outskirts of Mexico City. But what was this Geraldine man doing in the baking climes of Mexico? Simple – to teach the Mexican farmers new, advanced methods of sheep and dairy farming that rendered their existing traditional arrangements obsolete, with resounding success.

"In New Zealand it would employ three people, but in Mexico it meant that 12 families were afforded a living. Their skill levels were lifted and they began to understand why New Zealand farming was successful," said Mr Pemberton to The Timaru Herald.

It just goes to show that the knowledge and skills shown by the industrious New Zealand farmer really do know no bounds.

Mexico's farmland can endure drought, eradicating livestock - but New Zealand farmers are on hand to pass on their skills and knowledge.