An innovative beef genetics programme is to receive a funding boost of up to $1 million this year thanks to the New Zealand Meat Board (NZMB).

The Board has confirmed it will provide up to $1 million this year to the Informing New Zealand Beef (INZB) genetics programme following feedback from farmers during a consultation process.

This will see the NZMB joining the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) in supporting the seven-year Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) partnership, which aims to boost the sector’s profits by $460m over the next 25 years.

The INZB programme is focused on increasing the uptake of the use of genetics in the beef industry. The five main components of the programme are building a genetic evaluation and data infrastructure, progeny test herds, developing breeding objectives and indexes, developing new data sources, and designing and delivering a new model of farmer extension for beef genetics.

Ultimately, the programme will give commercial farmers the ability to quickly and easily source the right genetics for their environment and farm system and drive greater profitability.

Andrew Morrison, chairman of the NZMB, said a number of farmers who responded to the consultation recognised the value and importance of the Board’s contribution to industry good activities.

“The Board has responsibility for $82.2m of farmer reserves and returns generated from the prudent management of these reserves is supporting the industry to invest in areas such as beef genetics to increase the sector’s productivity and profitability.

“New Zealand sheep and beef farmers benefit directly from the industry-good funding delivered by the NZMB.”

Through the consultation, some farmers encouraged the NZMB to ensure there was necessary research into dairy beef, said Mr Morrison.

“B+LNZ is continuing to invest in dairy beef and bobby calf initiatives in conjunction with the dairy industry and MPI. Informing New Zealand Beef is laying the groundwork for this activity by building the skills and infrastructure to ensure the sires supplied to the dairy industry are of the highest quality.

“B+LNZ is also working collaboratively with the dairy industry and internationally to ensure the data system between farmers, industries and consumers is set up effectively and efficiently.

“This is a necessary step to linking consumers all the way through the supply chain and back to the sire for their meat. This will ensure genetic gain for eating quality can be captured by the dairy beef industry.

“The Board is also assured that B+LNZ is partnering with dairy industry organisations and government on three different initiatives to improve the use of non-replacement dairy calves. The B+LNZ Dairy-Beef Progeny test is a key enabler to improving the supply of dairy-beef animals.”

The NZMB acknowledges some farmers may be concerned about INZB duplicating the Breedplan programme, said Mr Morrison.

“Breedplan is an effective evaluation for many stud breeders. INZB plans to work with the providers of Breedplan to ensure that New Zealand’s non-stud farmers can also capture the value of Breedplan data in their business.

“The programme is going to some length to ensure it is not replicating existing tools through strong links to the breed societies, Performance Beef Breeders New Zealand (PBBNZ), international experts and stud breeders.

“The INZB programme also includes a substantial extension effort including beef forums and online Better Beef Buying workshops. The programme will enable B+LNZ to investigate and evolve the genetics extension offering to ensure farmers can make more informed decisions.”