Funding for complex research for agriculture. (soil, nutrition, disease resistance, weed management).

J Bruning made this Official Information request to Damien O'Connor

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Damien O'Connor should have responded by now (details and exceptions). The requester can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: J Bruning

Dear Damien O'Connor,

As you noted, primary industry exports have reached $56 billion. I'm attempting to understand where appropriate research funding is located for complex systems agricultural research. The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund's highest annual appropriation appears to have peaked at $72.78 million with total appropriations via the SFF Future Fund only $226.83 million over the 5 year period 2019-2024. Our Land and Water is only budgeted at $4 million this year.

These are surprisingly small sums for the challenges farmers/orchardists/growers face across all of New Zealand agriculture when agriculture brings in $56 billion. In addition, scientists and researchers often could not get funding through the SFF scheme if they were looking at broad cross-sectional and inter-disciplinary outcomes.

As I note below, in a review of science funding, I cannot find significant appropriations for complex open-ended agricultural research to tackle problems including disease prevention and weed management beyond the SFF fund, which ends soon. Most funding appears to track to designing products specifically for export markets, or to genetics and biotechnology research which concern the development of IP.

Farmers and growers with real challenges in New Zealand appear to largely be ignored by Government policy. I have struggled (July 2023) to identify clear funding pathways for complex agricultural research that might extend over a period of years. That is why I ask these questions:

a). Please can you provide a list of all funding schemes outside SFF directed to science and research for agriculture targeted to exploring soil/nutrient/soil biome interactions, and productivity, disease and stock/plant health from 2023/2024 onwards.

b). Please provide all policy documents supporting these funding schemes, including terms of reference for scientists applying for research funding.

(2) Please provide a list of all funding schemes supporting provision of extension services to farmers specifically relating to soil/plant/stock nutrition and health, including funding channels for scientists and researchers to review the latest global scientific research and feedback this information into agricultural communities.

(3) In response to increasing weed resistance to herbicidal formulations, please provide a list of all funding schemes which have capacity to promote R&D across New Zealand agriculture relating to robotic and chemical free weed management.

(4) Consideration of drought management through soil management, or protection of topsoil in rainfall events through mixed agricultural methods appear to be outside the scope of CERF. Please confirm where there is funding for complex agriculture research following extreme weather events.

Thank you Damien.

Yours faithfully,

Jodie Bruning.

Notes to the OIA request:


Such research would then provide insight into animal and plant health, and disease resistance, and productivity implications. Such research might consider regional variations, and look at soil management for drought resistance. Such research might look at both disease reduction, and reduction in non-greenhouse gas emissions.

New Zealand's Budget 2023 funding package includes the Government’s 'largest ever capital investment in science infrastructure' does not outline research pathways for open ended long-term research into agriculture.

The Wellington Science City ToR does not discuss agriculture.

Meanwhile, $495 million has been set aside for Agriculture Emissions Reduction research over a four year period.
2022/2023 baseline $38.4 million
2023/2024 forecast $75.09 million
2024/2025 forecast $134.23 million
2025/2026 forecast $247.73 million

While some $65+ million dollars has been provided for research into genetically modified pasture grasses, there is yet to be a financial analysis to demonstrate benefit to the public and New Zealand farmers. Now there is a methane quest, yet research into the microbiome, and nutrient uptake in mammals (i.e. stock), and mammalian health is largely absent. Instead, the focus is on setting up joint ventures. New Zealand's focus has been on genetics not broad-based nutrition for productivity. It is strange that nutrition should be broadly ignored for decades by state funding apparatuses, while now methane is an exclusive focus.

These are inconsistencies that are surprising when there is such a large amount of money set aside for speculative technological, rather than practical on-farm solutions which consider soil-nutrient interactions and long-term soil health, and when agriculture is such an important component of the New Zealand economy. This also seems highly inconsistent with claims to honour the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

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From: Hon Damien O'Connor

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Kia ora,
On behalf of Hon Damien O'Connor, thank you for your email. Please accept this reply as an acknowledgement that your correspondence has been received.
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Thank you for the taking the time to write.
Ngā mihi,
Office of Hon Damien O'Connor
Minister of Agriculture | Minister for Biosecurity | Minister for Land Information | Minister for Rural Communities | Minister for Trade and Export Growth | MP for West Coast-Tasman

Private Bag 18888 | Parliament Buildings | Wellington 6160 | New Zealand
Authorised by Hon Damien O'Connor MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington 6011


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From: Hon Damien O'Connor

Kia ora Jodie,

We acknowledge receipt of your official information request dated 05 July 2023.

We received your request on 05 July 2023. We will endeavour to respond to your request as soon as possible and in any event no later than 03 August 2023, being 20 working days after the day your request was received.

If your OIA request requires full or part transfer, we will contact you within the required timeframe.

If we are unable to respond to your request by then, we will notify you of an extension of that timeframe.

Ngā mihi,

Office of Hon Damien O’Connor
Executive Wing 5.1L | Parliament Buildings | Wellington

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From: Hon Damien O'Connor

Kia ora Jodie,

I am writing in regards to your official information request dated 05 July 2023.

This email is to advise you that we are transferring your request to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under section 14(b)(ii) of the Official Information Act 1982.

Your request is being transferred because the information you are seeking is, we believe, more closely connected with the functions of MPI.

You will hear further from MPI regarding your request.

Ngā mihi,

Office of Hon Damien O’Connor
Executive Wing 5.1L | Parliament Buildings | Wellington

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From: Official Information Act

Attachment OIA23 0407 OIA Release.pdf
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Tēnā koe Jodie, 


On behalf of Steve Penno, Director Investement Programmes, please find
attached an update on your request.


Ngā mihi,


Official Information Act Team

Government Services | Public Affairs

Ministry for Primary Industries | Charles Fergusson Building, 34-38 Bowen
Street | PO Box 2526 | Wellington | New Zealand 

Telephone: 0800 00 83 33 | Email: [1][email address] |
Web: [2]



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