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Criticism of Fonterra misguided: Anderton

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

2 June 2008 Media statement

Criticism of Fonterra misguided: Anderton

“The only sustainable and sensible way to help Kiwi households meet their food bills is to grow the economy and provide income assistance through better pay, more jobs and tax relief such as Working for Families,” Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

He criticised the Greens for their demands that Fonterra subsidises their products for New Zealanders.

"The Greens say Fonterra should drop prices to 'a price that our people can afford'. Is this a 5% drop, or a 20% drop or a 50% drop?

“It might make the hand wringing Greens feel good to say this sort of banal statement, but what are they really asking for? The only sustainable way to price goods is by international markets. Anything less and you are on a slippery and unsustainable slope.”

Jim Anderton said it was ironic that the Greens keep complaining about the intensification of dairying but also wanted to see prices drop.

“Constraints on production could only have an inflationary effect on prices so it’s hard to see whether the Greens are Arthur or Martha. As usual they want everything at the same time, no matter how contradictory."

Jim Anderton also savaged the Greens for being out of touch with the
challenges being faced by real New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses.

"The Government has had to be pragmatic in its approach to the phasing in of the Emissions Trading Scheme because many businesses and households really are struggling right now and to just throw huge new costs on them overnight, as the Greens would have us do, would be nothing short of economic vandalism.

"The Green's policy positions are so contradictory and incoherent you have to feel embarrassed for them. The Greens believe the price of petrol should rise to discourage consumption and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but when it comes to dairy products, which also contribute to global warming, the Greens want prices subsidised. There is no logic to this.”

Jim Anderton said it was absurd to suggest that New Zealand needed a food strategy to 'protect staples' when we export up to 90% of the food we produce.

“What the Greens are really talking about here is either price controls or subsidies for farmers to grow crops that are otherwise uneconomic. Internationally, these policies have failed everywhere they have been tried. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation is pleading with countries right now to drop such policies because they are only making the food security problem worse.

“We grow the things that we are good at growing and get best prices and then buy in the staples, such rice, which we cannot grow. This is rational and efficient and is the only approach that can maximise the economic wellbeing of New Zealanders.”

Jim Anderton welcomed the Greens wanting to make food an election issue,
saying "bring it on".

"The best intervention the New Zealand Government can make to domestic food security is to increase the productivity, output and sustainability of our food industries. This is exactly what the Labour-Progressive Government is doing through the $700m New Zealand Fast Forward Fund, aimed at creating $2 billion additional investment between Government and industry over the next decade. No Government in our history has made a greater contribution to boosting our food production than this one.

"Once again, the Greens have shown that they live in a fairy land where they only talk to themselves and their supporters. They need to get out more in order to learn and listen, rather than professing to have all the answers for issues they clearly do not understand."

Jim Anderton provided comment on route to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Summit on World Food Security.


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