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Foot Mouth Disease Comments Unfortunate


28 November 2001 PR177/01 FFNZ:

FMD Comments Unfortunate

Federated Farmers' President Alistair Polson has labelled comments made at the Ministry of Economic Development conference today that a disaster like Foot and Mouth (FMD) disease can be a stimulus for economic development as unfortunate.

Scottish Enterprise education manager Gordon McVie, speaking at the Regional Development Conference in Rotorua, says that the long term impact on the economy of a disaster like foot and mouth disease can be positive.

"While the situation in Scotland is interesting, the New Zealand context is so completely different that any comparison is inappropriate," said Mr Polson. "Furthermore, talking up the positives from a UK perspective undermines the messages about the seriousness of FMD in New Zealand.

"Earlier this year the Federation commended the Government for its boarder control package which included the $1.2 million 'Stop Foot and Mouth with Word of Mouth' education campaign which highlighted the immense impact FMD would have on all New Zealanders.

"Out of necessity a disaster like FMD could possibly lead to significant creativity but you need to search very hard to see this as a positive for the New Zealand economy. The consequences of a disaster like FMD in New Zealand would be far greater than in the UK where the agricultural sector comprises only 0.6 % of exports.

"An outbreak of FMD in New Zealand would see an immediate suspension of our $10 billion dairy, meat and wool exports which comprise over 40% of our total exports. It has been estimated that there would be employment risks to over 100,000 New Zealanders.

"Agriculture in the United Kingdom has for some time been in need of structural change to overcome its heavy reliance on government subsidies and make it more market focussed. New Zealand farmers have already demonstrated the ability to respond to market signals and diversify in adverse situations without FMD, as evidenced by the kiwifruit, viticulture and deer industries."

For more information: Alistair Polson, PH 04 473 7269 Tony St Clair, PH 04 473 7269

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