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National focused on improving farm fortunes

Gavan Herlihy National Agriculture Spokesperson

14 June 2002

National focused on improving farm fortunes

"National understands the importance of the primary sector as the cornerstone of New Zealand's economy and our agriculture policy reflects this," says National's Agriculture spokesman Gavan Herlihy.

Promoting National's Agriculture Policy, along with leader Bill English at the Fieldays today, Mr Herlihy says National has developed a comprehensive plan aimed at locking in long term growth for the agriculture sector.

"National intends delivering the best business environment that allows farmers to remain competitive. We don't believe in saddling New Zealand farmers with unnecessary costs that our trading competitors do not have to contend with.

"We also recognise the importance of ensuring the integrity of our food safety reputation as well as protecting the country's all-important biosecurity. Our policy ensures both on and off-farm verification and certifications systems are beyond approach.

"National will enhance New Zealand's reputation as a 'clean, green producer. However, we believe enhancing the rural environment is best progressed by farmers and not dictated by government or environmental groups."

Mr Herlihy says the improved fortunes experienced by agricultural sector in recent times have been in spite of - not because of - the current government's policies.

"Unfortunately, it appears as if this golden run may be at an end, with an ever-appreciating Kiwi dollar, rising interest rates and lower forecast commodity prices are likely to bite heavily into future farming returns."

He says farmers are going to feel impact of such things as losing ACC competition; the hike in petrol tax and road user charges; Government's refusal to amend the RMA as well as the looming costs of Kyoto ratification.

"Unlike the current government, National has a strong representation of MPs with an understanding and empathy for farming and the rural sector and our agriculture policy reflects this.

"Recent times have shown that when rural New Zealand is strong and prosperous, the country is strong and prosperous. National is focused on delivering long-term, sustainable prosperity to the farming sector," Mr Herlihy said.

Ends

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