SPRING is here, the days are getting longer and we now know who has made it into the All Blacks' squad for the World Cup. Congratulations in particular to local boys Aaron Smith, Sam Whitelock and Nehe MilnerSkudder.
Following the drop in dairy prices recently, it is reassuring to note New Zealand remains well placed to deal with global challenges and uncertainties, and our long-term prospects are looking very good. In fact, impressive growth in the meat, horticulture and seafood sectors should help offset any decrease in the dairy sector.
Beef prices for our farmers, for example, have risen to record highs. The New Zealand dollar is also around 25 cents lower against the US dollar than it was this time last year, which is helping all of our exporters. Redmeat export returns reached a record high $2.53 billion and we are on track to fill our United States beef quota for the first time this year.
What is more, the medium- to long-term outlook for our dairy sector - and, indeed, all of the primary sectors - is very positive. The sector is predicted to grow by 17 per cent to over $41 billion in the next four years.
Horticulture exports are now worth just over $4 billion, and have grown 17 per cent over three years, and fruit exports are now worth $2 billion, with apple and pear export revenue exceeding $570 million last year.
In fact, fruit exports in May 2015 had the second-highest ever value for a month ($445 million) with kiwifruit and apples leading the charge in terms of the monthly increases. Our exports in May 2015 represented the highest value recorded for kiwifruit ($280 million) and apples ($157 million).
Even our wool exports rose 19 per cent to $75 million in June compared to the same month in 2014 and they reached their highest level for a June month since 1994.
Other sectors of the economy are also performing well, including tourism, ICT, international education and the wine industry.
Wine exports have grown by 7 per cent to $1.42 billion, which is a considerable jump from where they were in 2008 at about $800 million. New Zealand wine operates at the premium end of the global market, and commands the highest average price in Britain, the secondhighest price in the US, and is more than double the average price of its nearest competitor in China.
I am very aware that for New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy we need all our regions to achieve to their potential and the Rangitikei is no different.
We are better placed than many to take advantage of recent growth, being a region with a strong agricultural base and also a burgeoning tourism industry and education sector and a raft of innovative and thriving businesses.
With spring here, there is plenty to celebrate in Rangitikei.