The Government’s ‘Fit For a Better World’ vision for the primary sector fails to address the myriad of issues they’ve created for farmers over the past three years, Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller and National’s Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett say.
“Our farmers are world leaders in producing sustainable and low-emissions food and fibre. It’s this commitment to creating world-class products that provides jobs and export receipts, and will drive our economy post-Covid,” Mr Muller says.
“This clumsy and incompetent Government has created a huge amount of stress for farming families with their inability to get the policy settings around the Emissions Trading Scheme correct, creating perverse incentives for turning productive farmland into pine plantations, and by threatening huge costs and unattainable targets through the Essential Freshwater proposals.
“Their ‘vision’ fundamentally neglects the main drivers of our primary sector in the dairy and sheep and beef sectors. The ‘Acceleration Roadmap’ has no concrete plans for either.
“While it’s good to finally see the Government wake up to the benefits of Free Trade Agreements and Research & Development, they should also be focused on capitalising on our existing competitive advantage and encouraging our existing industries to grow.” Mr Muller says.
“Farmers will shudder at the document’s multiple suggestions that the entire sector needs ‘transformation’. No one will deny the need for progress and evolution, but we should acknowledge that we currently are the most productive and sustainable food and fibre producers in the world and build on this,” Mr Bennett says.
“Labour’s strategy has a pure emphasis on land-use change. The underlying theme is that Kiwi farmers need to change what and how they produce. Land-use change should be driven by market signals, not by Government regulations.
“Goals like doubling New Zealand’s ag exports are unrealistic when other goals such as lowering biogenic methane 24-47 per cent from 2017 levels will require major production reductions, and are estimated to cost the economy $5-$12 billion.
“A National Government will allow the primary sector to thrive by investing in strategic infrastructure and encouraging innovation, not constraining it with regulations.
“Labour has no plan for the economy or our primary sector, they’ve just got slogans. With more than 200,000 people on unemployment benefits this isn’t good enough. We need a National Government to grow the primary sector.”