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2. Agriculture in New Zealand

The agriculture sector in New Zealand is unique in its significance for the country and economy. This section is intended to provide a snapshot of that significance in order to provide a context for this case study of product stewardship for agrichemical containers.

"New Zealand is unique in the world in its dependence on a biological and natural resource-based economy and society. Sustaining and managing those resources will continue to be important to New Zealand as a society into the foreseeable future." (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry).

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) estimates that, at current prices, agriculture contributes to approximately 20% of the country's GDP and accounts for 65% of our export earnings. For the year ending June 2004, our agricultural, horticultural and forestry export earnings were valued at $18.5 billion.

Figure 1: New Zealand's agricultural, forestry, and horticultural exports for the year ending June 2004

Agricultural production also comprises a significant land use, using just over 50% of New Zealand's land area.

Hectares (000) 2004 1994

Grazing, arable, fodder and fallow land

11,709

13,536

Land in horticulture

121

104

Plantations in exotic timber

1,835

1,388

Total area of New Zealand

26,870

26,870

The value of New Zealand's "clean and green" image to this industry is hard to measure. One study has estimated that it could be worth more than $500 million to the dairy industry alone [Ministry for the Environment (2001)Valuing New Zealand's Clean Green Image] .