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Greens welcome positive comments from Grain Counci

23 June 1999

Green Party Agriculture spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street is pleased the Federated Farmers Grains Council has suggested they need to start providing for alternative niche markets.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Federated Farmers Grains Council in Christchurch, Chairman Alan Taylor said he realised that New Zealand was too small to effectively compete on the commodity market. Instead New Zealand grain producers needed to take a more holistic approach and expand into niche markets and value added products.

Ian Ewen-Street said he was delighted by Mr Taylor's comments. "This is exactly what I have been telling Federated Farmers all year," he said.

"Of course New Zealand cannot compete in high volume, low price commodities with the likes of the United States. Our advantage lies in our clean green image, which we already trade heavily on, and our ability to produce different, top quality goods to both our domestic and export markets."

Ian Ewen-Street said it was clear that for grain growers that niche market was organic, genetically engineered-free grain. "Our export markets are clamouring for natural, safe food and they are prepared to pay top dollar for it," he said.

"This demand is only going to grow and New Zealand is currently perfectly positioned to fill the huge gaps in the market," he said.

"Mr Taylors comments are perfectly sensible and show he has the best financial interests of grain producers in mind. I only wish the President of Federated Farmers, Malcolm Bailey, showed such common sense as the same principle applies to all of our other agricultural products."

"New Zealand must decide very soon what path we are to take - GE-free with our products sought globally or do we engineer our crops and animals and try to be internationally competitive on commodity exports."

"The choice is clear," said Ian Ewen-Street. "Congratulations to the Grains Council."

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