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National On The Road To Developing Rural Policy

Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley and National's Agricultural spokesman Gavan Herlihy today announced a major rural initiative called 'National Agri-Rural Towards 2002'.

"Agri-business is again demonstrating that it is at the heart of the wealth creation in our economy. Agri-business is also at the cutting edge of new technology and will clearly have a major impact on our future prosperity," Mrs Shipley said.

"National wants to work directly with farming and rural leaders and those who make up the agri-business sector to plan the future.

"Last year we went on a listening tour. This year we want to clearly define the areas which agri-business believes National should be concentrating on as we build towards our 2002 manifesto and our 10 year vision for New Zealand," she said.

This important initiative will be led by National's Agricultural spokesperson Gavan Herlihy who will be supported by teams of National MPs. Each team will spend a day in each region of the country holding in-depth discussions with key stakeholders in the rural sector.

The centrepiece of each visit is to be a session where rural leaders, agri-business leaders and innovative farmers will be invited to present 'submissions' to the visiting MPs.

"It's their turn to do the talking, we'll be doing the listening and taking policy ideas on board where appropriate," team leader Gavan Herlihy said.

The tour will involve 10 visits in the South Island in March and April. The North Island segment will involve 14 visits during the winter period (based on the Federated Farmers provincial areas). Jenny Shipley will officially launch 'National Agri-Rural Towards 2002' in Dunedin on Monday 5 March.

"With biotechnology holding such a key to the future of agriculture, it is fitting to launch National's initiative in Dunedin. The focus of that day will be on the important links between research, agri-business and the 'grass roots' farmer," Mr Herlihy said.


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