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Government can't afford to ignore rural slump

Government can't afford to ignore rural slump

National says it's not surprised farmers are starting to tighten their belts as confidence in the sector begins to slide.

A Rabobank Rural Confidence Survey out today shows most farmers less optimistic about the next 12 months, income expectations down and investment intentions hitting the lowest levels seen since 2000.

"What this points to is increasing worry in the sector as commodity prices soften and our exchange rate rises," says National's Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

"But what it also shows is the growing belief amongst farmers that this Government has forgotten that the agricultural sector is the number one contributor to our economy.

"The Government is doing nothing to help farmers as they face tougher times ahead.

"Not only is it lamely handling the numerous biosecurity breaches which have seriously jeopardised New Zealand agriculture in recent months, but it also continues to hobble the sector with unwieldy legislation - the Resource Management Act, Kyoto, ACC, Local Government and OSH.

"The Government can't afford to continue to ignore the rural sector because, as everyone knows, when the agricultural economy slumps the whole country suffers.

"For months now, National has warned the Government to be ready for its first real test in heartland New Zealand. But it's been too complacent and arrogant - and now it is too late," says Mr Carter.

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