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Anderton says farmers' contribution is undervalued

3rd February 2006

Anderton says farmers' contribution is undervalued

Jim Anderton's two-day visit to Southland and South Otago, which includes Telford Rural Polytech today, signals the importance the new Minister of Agriculture gives to New Zealand's primary productive industries.

"They are the bedrock on which New Zealand's economy is based and anyone who does not understand that has no real understanding of New Zealand's most competitive resource," says Jim Anderton.

"From 1999 to 2005, as the Minister of Economic and Regional Development, I brought different sectors of New Zealand together to develop strategies that eliminated barriers to growth with the goal of reaching their full potential," says Jim Anderton. "I believe that New Zealand can only reach its full potential when our primary production industries are reaching their full potential and that's how important they are to New Zealand.

"There is a persistent, urban viewpoint that says that our primary industries do not hold the key to our future prosperity, despite New Zealand's current standard of living having come so definitively from our natural resource base. The editorial in the Dominion Post last week expressed the view that 'there is more money to be made in research and inventing things than in sheep and butter'."

"New Zealand survives in the world because of the close co-operative working relationship between our scientists and technologists, our farming communities and exporters," says Jim Anderton.

"New Zealand's productive base has been built on decades of research and development investment in cutting edge agriscience and the editor of the capital's major daily newspaper should know this.

"Tertiary institutions, like Telfords Rural Polytech in Balclutha, provide the skilled people as well as developing the agriscience, which are both crucial to developing the high skill science on which our primary production industries so vitally depend," says Jim Anderton.

"Our primary industries are crucial to the future of New Zealand's economic and social development. New Zealand can not sustain a first world health and education system, let alone a first world infrastructure or environment, unless it maintains a first world economy.

"This is the message I am advocating around the cabinet table and will continue to take to the regions and the cities of New Zealand to stress the importance of taking our primary industry sectors very seriously indeed," says Jim Anderton.

ENDS

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