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Farmers To The Rescue

Farming looks set to see New Zealand through an economic sticky patch once again, according to Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton.

He says that although international prices for some farm products have gone off the boil, others are gaining in favour. And sound economic fundamentals were the key to sustained high confidence and investment in the sector, which would lead to further income and job growth.

"The truth is, most farmers have never had it better than they have it now," Mr Sutton said. "But instead of this resulting in an inflationary boil-over and loss of competitiveness, as has happened in the past, the CPI rose a mere 1.8% for the 2001 calendar year, and the New Zealand dollar remains extremely exporter-friendly".

Mr Sutton said that from his point of view one of the most gratifying aspects of the farming situation was the effective partnership that had emerged between central government and industry sectors.

"For example, the joint effort in getting the dairy mega-merger in place has been outstanding, with only a few issues remaining to be resolved. The result is an industry that is bubbling with energy and confidence and moving energetically forward".

"We were told the new dairy company would be the 12th biggest in the world, but already it's at 4th or 5th. There has been a set-back to prices caused by increased subsidies to overseas competitors, but this should be more than offset in future by further investment in added value, and improved market access."

Mr Sutton said that several other farm sectors were also performing exceptionally well, and demonstrating their confidence in their own future by spending strongly on upgrading capital equipment, livestock and skills development.

"Farm revenue is flowing through the rural towns, many of which have never looked better than they do today. And it is underpinning our main cities."

"New Zealand is not immune from the effects of a downturn in major world economies, but the sound health and performance of our most important export industry puts us in an excellent position to ride out the storm."

Ends

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