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Every Household Needs A Farmer

 
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6 May 2008

Every Household Needs A Farmer

The President of Federated Farmers, Charlie Pedersen says too many New Zealanders have become disconnected from the land and most now only have a relationship with their supermarket and not the people who produce some of the best food in the world. But he says farmers are very aware of the needs of consumers.

Mr Pedersen’s comments came in the first of his speeches to the annual general meetings of the Federation’s provincial organisations.

“Not that many years ago most kiwis had friends or relatives who farmed, but with the urbanisation of New Zealand, this connection with the land has been lost. Fewer people understand the nature and vagaries of farming and the modern production systems which make New Zealand a world class food producer, said Mr Pedersen.

“I sense that people forget that $17.2 billion or 47 percent of our export earning come from food production and that around 40 percent of the nation is employed by the food sector. Any moves to severely restrict food production in New Zealand will result in the loss of jobs and a lowering of the general standard of living.”

Mr Pedersen says the public’s lack of connection with the land is leading to attitudes which threaten the right of New Zealand farmers to farm in a sensible and sustainable way. He says some extreme elements of the environment movement are spreading misinformation about the impacts of farming and some of this material is being taken as fact by local and central government decision makers.

“Some proposals by regional councils to restrict farming practices need to be carefully scrutinised to make sure that they don’t make it economically unviable to farm. Rising fuel and energy prices, a whole host of bureaucratic compliance costs and a grossly unfair share of local body rates are causing great concern. In the past year, local government spending rose by more than $500 million and that is a disturbing sign, said Mr Pedersen.

“The high payout by Fonterra has helped fuel an urban myth that farmers are overly wealthy, but the public fail to understand that the drought this year will cost farmers in excess of $1.24 billion and for some individual sheep and beef farmers their incomes will fall by as much as $100,000, he said.

“Every New Zealand household needs a farmer more than they know and with the threats to farming, farmers need a strong Federation,” Mr Pedersen said. 

ends

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