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MAF briefing paper released

MAF briefing paper released

Primary production is the heart of the New Zealand economy, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

Mr Sutton released the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry briefing paper to the incoming government. The paper covers agriculture, forestry, biosecurity, and rural affairs.

He said that the figures were clear.

· New Zealand pastoral agriculture provides 50 per cent of our total exports; · 87 per cent of agricultural production is exported; · 13 per cent of the population is involved on the farm or in processing and marketing agricultural production; · agriculture provides 17 per cent of gdp from only 13 per cent of the population; and · in the past 15 years, agriculture has grown at 4 per cent a year, much higher than the economy as a whole.

Mr Sutton said the Labour-led Government recognised the importance of primary production in its Growth and Innovation strategy.

"The full potential of our economy will only be realised if we build on our sources of natural advantage and deepen the competencies that are associated with them. That means working with the primary production sector in agriculture, horticulture, and forestry.

"Biotechnology, one of the three identified areas of strategic priority, is an area of both natural and acquired comparative advantage for New Zealand."

Mr Sutton said New Zealanders had the capacity to develop exciting new products and new markets.

"Many ? but not in this Government - still perceive the primary production sector to be competing in price-driven food and fibre commodity markets.

"In fact, agriculture and forestry industries encompass agritech, animal remedies , software, machinery, biochemicals and nutraceuticals. A major part of New Zealand's high value manufacturing and processing is directly dependent on agribusiness, including processing, packaging, agritech equipment, machinery and software."

Mr Sutton said the agribusiness and forestry sectors in New Zealand had the scale, global marketing capabilities, technical skills and natural resource advantages that not only made them core to our domestic economy, but also provided New Zealand with the platform for future growth and for diversification into new and non-traditional markets.

"The enthusiasm with which New Zealanders' are prepared to embrace new crops and techniques of growing older ones is indicative of an innovative farming and forestry sector.

"I note that some have complained that agriculture was not in the speech from the Throne. Yes, the "A" word was not used; neither was the "F" word ? farm.

"But that does not mean that that primary production is ignored by this government. We are led by a farmer's daughter, a Prime Minister who has a good understanding of the issues affecting rural people.

"The speech from the Throne was clear about encouraging exports and exporters. More than 50 per cent of this country's exports are from three products: dairy, meat, and trees. With our focus on the export sector, we are firmly focussed on primary production and rural people."

The briefing paper is available on: http://www.maf.govt.nz//mafnet/publications/2002-post-election-brief/

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