$15m sheep, beef genetics research boost

Last updated 12:58 29/01/2014

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Genetic research to improve sheep and beef profitability will get a $15 million boost from the Government over the next five years.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced the investment today.

A new partnership called Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics will bring together existing sheep and beef genetics researchers Sheep Improvement Ltd, the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test, and Ovita to run the programme.

Total funding for the new project from government and industry sources will be up to $8.8 million a year.

Joyce said science and innovation were major drivers of economic growth and international competitiveness, and the purpose-driven research would benefit New Zealand.

He said genetic improvement in the sheep industry had contributed greatly to farm profitability.

Over the next 10 years work by Beef + Lamb New Zealand Genetics is expected to deliver $5.90 extra profit to farmers for each lamb sold. For every dollar captured on farm, it is estimated another 50 cents is captured off-farm.

The funding, contributed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, will go towards expanding research in beef genetics, and allow both the beef and sheep industries to improve genetic gains by developing new traits to satisfy the increasing trend of farming in hill-country environments.

Joyce said the genetics project would help improve meat quality, contribute directly to improving on-farm profitability, and ensure the needs of consumers were being met.

"As a nation, we are already leading the world in pastoral animal and plant genetics," he said.

"This partnership will help us maintain this critical position and to continue to build on it through further research and development in sheep and beef genetics."

AgResearch will play a major role in the partnership, along with research partners Abacus Bio, Lincoln University, Massey University, and the University of Otago.

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