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Build dams not cycle lanes say farmers

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28 October 2008

Build dams not cycle lanes say farmers

Federated Farmers President, Don Nicolson today urged all political parties to focus far more on the productive sector. He said if government increased infrastructure expenditure it should spend money on building dams rather than cycle lanes.

Several political leaders on the TV One debate last night, said that given the current international financial crisis, the Government should spend more money on infrastructure as a way to stimulate the economy

“It’s not complex – dams store water, cycle lanes don’t. Water grows grass and grass produces food which we can sell to the world to pay the nation’s bills.

“If we have a strategy that can harness New Zealand’s enormous water resources so we get water in the right place at the right time, our world-beating farmers will be able to convert more grass into food and fibre for more export receipts. If we are going to survive this economic crisis New Zealand needs to produce more primary sector exports to pay the bills.

“While building new houses, new classrooms and new cycle lanes may be helpful for some, it’s not going to increase exports to set New Zealand up for greater success. Water storage that enables New Zealand to turn the water tap on and off for the productive sector, will.

“Water storage is critical to New Zealand’s future. It is well known that farming is the backbone of the economy. Current run of river water allocation systems see farmers too vulnerable to drought and floods. In the past year we have had both. The drought is widely acknowledged as a significant contributor to our current recession. Storing water now, as part of a response to the financial crisis, will see this risk reduced for at least the first half of this century.

“Not only will new storage help increase exports, we know from the Opuha experience that the towns, cities, boaties, fishermen and environment also benefit.

“Federated Farmers calls on all political parties to think seriously about water storage when they consider any “emergency” infrastructure spending plans in coming weeks. Such proposals should not be about trying to win elections, but about setting our nation up for success for decades to come. Politicians need to get off their bikes, use some common sense and look to storing water,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

Mr Nicolson said the Federation had been working on a campaign on water storage for some time, to follow on from its recent T150 campaign, but was now bringing the issue forward, given comments from an increasing number of politicians.

ends

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