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A Mixed Bag of Offerings in Today's Policy Announcements

A Mixed Bag of Offerings in Today's Policy Announcements

The new coalition government’s determination to invest in areas like regional economies and biosecurity are promising signs of intent, says Federated Farmers.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her coalition partner NZ First party leader Winston Peters today made a commitment to spend $1 billion dollars annually on regional New Zealand where communities have been subject to a steady decline.

"Obviously we await to see the detail and what provinces will benefit directly. But I’m sure I speak for most farmers and say this is a welcome, progressive step," says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers National President.

"It’s really encouraging to see that the new government is taking into account the importance of the primary sector."

The Federation is also delighted to see biosecurity is going to be boosted in the face of recent incursions which have threatened our ability to fight pests and diseases, compromising our global reputation and competitiveness.

"Farmers worry about biosecurity. A robust biosecurity system is paramount to ensuring we can continue to protect and manage any unwanted incursions."

The decision to honour existing Crown Irrigation investment commitments would also get approval from irrigated farm owners and the wider primary sector.
"For many farmers, irrigation is a vital artery to water especially during dry spells, without it their businesses would simply not exist."

However, we will continue to ask that the new Government does not close the door on new irrigation schemes and improvements to existing irrigation schemes that have the potential to deliver a significant boost to regional economies and provide environmental benefits.

An incremental rise in research & development spending - 2% over 10 years - is a good start, Katie says.

"This is an area we’ve campaigned on for many years. The science community has a significant role to play in helping make farmers more environmentally sound, while keeping us at the forefront as a competitive food exporter.

"Ideally we would like to see more investment and perhaps in a shorter time frame."

Some low points for farming in today’s announcement was the news we would be waiting to see if and when agriculture would be absorbed into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

"There is concern that if this should happen; New Zealand will become less competitive with other food producing nations.

"Our farmers are currently very efficient and pay for energy Co2 emissions on coal fuel and electricity like all Kiwis. And while no other nation has agriculture in an ETS, it will make for an uneven playing field and make us less competitive.

"Also a rise in the minimum wage up to $20 by the year 2020, raises questions on how small businesses like farms would be able to incorporate such an increase in their business model."

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