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Another road to Damascus conversion for Anderton

David Carter MP National Party Agriculture Spokesman

14 May 2008

Another road to Damascus conversion for Anderton

Jim Anderton's sudden support for a meat industry mega-merger is a complete about-face and will come as a surprise to sheep farmers, says National's Agriculture spokesman, David Carter.

Mr Carter says it's ironic, given that the Agriculture Minister rubbished the concept when it was first mooted in February this year.

"At that stage, Jim Anderton suggested that any support at central government level would be perceived as a subsidy by overseas trading partners, and that 'we would immediately force retaliatory tariffs on our entire agricultural export base'.

"Clearly, this was a stupid comment by the Minister. He once again showed how out of touch he is with the rural sector, and his lack of support will no doubt be part of the reason that talks on a mega-merger fell over.

"Maybe Jim Anderton has finally come to recognise just what a parlous state the sheep industry is in. As New Zealand farms convert from sheep to dairy, increased pressure goes on existing meat processing companies to rationalise capacity.

"I would hope his change of heart is a signal that he is finally prepared to encourage the industry to continue discussing the concept, and arrive at a co-operative way to restore profitability to New Zealand's sheep industry."

ENDS

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