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MPI survives defrag of portfolios

MPI survives defrag of fisheries, forestry, biosecurity, food safety portfolios

By Sophie Boot

Dec. 13 (BusinessDesk) - The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety.

Minister for Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor announced the changes today, saying a driving factor behind the decision not to split the ministry was the importance of maintaining its status as the competent authority "to provide consistency and certainty to our international certification agencies and trading partners".

"We had the unfortunate incident when MPI was formed that the competent authority was not recognised by our overseas trading partners, meat sat on the wharves in China," O'Connor said. "We believe that maintaining the Ministry for Primary Industries as the competent authority to deal with those certification issues will remove the risk of that occurring again."

The changes will cost $6.8 million to establish the four units, and $2.3 million in additional operating costs per year, money which will be taken out of the Primary Growth Partnership Fund. The government is still reviewing the funding of the PGPs.

There will be no job losses at the ministry and some staff will move into more specialised roles or work across the new portfolios, O'Connor said.

The ministerial portfolio has been split between O'Connor, Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash, Forestry Minister Shane Jones, and Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri.

O'Connor said the government is looking to derive more value from agriculture products and will set up a primary sector council to assist with strategic planning by the middle of 2018.

"We can't continue to increase the volumes without adverse effects on the environment, we've got to increase the value from each and every one of those areas," he said. "We'll be looking for new visionary and strategic thinkers across the industry - people who can show some new vision for agriculture, horticulture and New Zealand as a producer of food. We should have a stronger focus on better value products from this country, better branding, better appreciation and better integrity behind those products that we sell."

(BusinessDesk)


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