The aim of the overall project is to explore a new narrative for livestock farming in
New Zealand by navigating the growing tension between the health of our environment and the health of our agricultural industry.

Upcoming publication

2018: Think Piece – Looking at Ways to Reduce Our Livestock Footprint
We are currently doing preliminary research for a think piece with the working title Looking at Ways to Reduce Our Livestock Footprint. The think piece may lead into a Project 2058 report and/or a short documentary examining the effects of large-scale livestock production on our environment and how those effects can be managed to benefit both the environment and the economy.

We were particularly impressed with the Beef + Lamb Environment Strategy and Implementation Plan 2018–2022; they have set a standard that we hope the dairy industry will imitate (see excerpt on the right).

The work in 2018 aims to contribute to a wider ongoing discussion about the future of livestock farming in New Zealand. Our current thinking is to start by looking backwards, identifying the extent to which numbers and sizes of livestock have changed over the past 100 years. We hope to complete the first phase of this work later this year. This will enable us to start a more informed discussion with stakeholders next year, when we will focus on the latest science and emerging trends in agriculture in order to apply foresight and discover how New Zealand might develop a deeper understanding of the policy challenges and opportunities ahead.

We acknowledge that this work is based on the assumption New Zealand will need to manage farming practices. Our interest is in understanding what livestock (e.g. types, breeds and numbers) and what policy initiatives (e.g. taxes or incentives) might achieve the best outcomes for New Zealand in the longer term.

The Institute has undertaken a number of pieces of work focused on agriculture, including research on benchmarking protein, genetic modification and NZ King Salmon farming in the Marlborough Sounds. Together these form the beginnings of an investigation into how New Zealand might transition smoothly towards a more sustainable livestock model.

For the purpose of this research project, we are defining ‘livestock’ as domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food (e.g. meat, eggs and fish) and fibre (e.g. wool and feathers). This definition sees livestock as having a commercial purpose in that they are reared specifically for financial gain.

The Institute will be calling on four of our patrons to help guide and stress-test this work: Councillor Ella Lawton, James Palmer, Professor Jacqueline Rowarth and
Dr J. Morgan Williams.

We are currently seeking an agricultural economist graduate to work with us on this project, so if you know of someone who might be interested, please let us know.

If you have any questions or want to meet to discuss this project, please email us at livestocknz@mcguinnessinstitute.org.