Ag JV appoints Board, makes first investment in Ruminant BioTech

Media release | 6 April 2023

Established in February, the Centre for Climate Action Joint Venture the (AgriZeroNZ) is now open for business and has appointed an experienced Board of Directors chaired by Sir Brian Roche KNZM.

This week, the JV has made its first investment in a methane-inhibiting technology that is already showing potential to reduce methane emissions from dairy and beef cattle by over 70 per cent.

The JV is a world-first investment fund established between Government and major agribusiness companies to help pasture-based farmers in Aotearoa New Zealand reduce their agricultural emissions by 30% by 2030.

The JV’s role is to help take the pressure off New Zealand farmers by making sure that they have equitable access to affordable and effective tools and technology to cut their methane and nitrous oxide emissions, while maintaining efficiency, productivity and profitability.

The JV’s shareholders are ANZCO Foods, Fonterra, Rabobank, Ravensdown, Silver Fern Farms and Synlait, many of the largest players in New Zealand agribusiness owning 50%, with the other 50% owned by the Government through MPI.

Joining Sir Brian Roche on the Board are Jessie Chan, Sir Neville Jordan KNZM CNZM, Greg Murison and Fraser Whineray, who bring deep experience in agribusiness, agri-research and tech start-ups.

Executive Director Wayne McNee says the JV is focused on getting tools into farmers’ hands and brings together large agriculture players with expertise and capital in a way that’s never been seen before in New Zealand or anywhere else in the world.

“The JV’s shareholders have access to over 70% of New Zealand’s farms which will make it easier to accelerate the adoption of emissions reduction tools on farm.

“Our shareholders are committed to ensuring the JV is commercially led, informed by science, and investing in and developing practical tools to reduce agricultural emissions. We also recognise the importance of intergenerational stewardship (kaitiakitanga) of the land and the key role te ao Māori beliefs, values and aspirations will play in the success of the JV.

“The JV must be a problem solver and value creator. Our shareholders have invested in the JV because it is working to solve the emissions challenge for our pasture-based farmers, and because it has potential to be the world leader in commercialising emissions-reduction solutions for pasture-based farmers that can be sold in New Zealand and globally.

“The JV is unique because of the breadth of its sector expertise and commercial focus. New Zealand’s pasture-based farming is also unique, so we are working to find tools that will work for our farmers – investing to help turbo-charge innovations through to commercialisation, taking an equity stake in promising new technologies to get these tools into farmers’ hands faster, and helping to remove any barriers to farmers being able to use these tools."

“Farmers will need at least two to three proven tools and technologies in widespread use by 2030 to meet our ambition of a 30% reduction in methane and nitrous oxide emissions. That’s why the JV is initially focused on investing in technologies that are already showing the most potential to have the most impact on emissions reduction for our pasture-based farmers.”

Wayne McNee

One of these promising ventures is Ruminant BioTech, a New Zealand-based start-up that is developing a slow-release, biodegradable methane-inhibiting bolus.

Initial trials are promising, indicating the bolus could deliver significant reductions in methane emissions from pasture-based farming, with trials indicating potential for reducing methane emissions by up to 70% for up to six months. The JV has invested almost $1.8 million in the start-up.

Almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, which makes up 75% of New Zealand’s goods exports. Since agriculture is the backbone of New Zealand’s economy, the importance of reducing methane emissions in agriculture cannot be understated.

McNee says, “our global customers are setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets, and if we can’t meet these targets, export revenue that has underpinned our living standards will be under threat. We must confront this reality, and I believe we can meet the challenge.

“We’re focused on scaling up efforts made to date by Kiwi farmers and agri-researchers and forging ahead with investigating new opportunities and investments. We welcome interest from potential new shareholders, technology companies and strategic partners.”