Fresh Food - Out of Reach
Fresh Food - Out of Reach
Amy Wiggins writes in the front page of the NZ Herald on Friday November 10th 2017, that as the prices for fresh fruit and vegetables rise they are becoming out of reach for low income families. The article goes on to say that many New Zealanders are struggling to afford to buy enough fresh produce to feed their families a healthy diet.
I agree with both of these statements and in fact when you take into account the land use restrictions on the horticultural industry, contained within the Healthy Rivers Proposed Plan Change 1 (PC1); this is going to create extremely serious food security problems into the future.
A huge percentage of the country’s population rely on the Waikato Region’s fruit and vegetable producers for security of their food supply and with the restrictions on horticultural land use that occur as a result of PC1, they are going to lose the security of supply that they currently have.
With the changes on land use the Waikato Regional Council has effectively declared that horticultural land use is a non-complying activity and should be stopped from any expansion into new areas of the region. This will have the effect over time of reducing the amount of land available for horticultural production therefore reducing the supply of fruit and vegetables.
There is not only the adverse effect of reduction in supply but also the added effect of that reduction in the level supply able to be provided causing a marked increase in prices with supply having to come from outside the regions boundaries.
The article goes on to quote the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi saying “he understood that many families found the rising cost of living really difficult. Our competition law is there for the long-term benefit of consumers so I am interested to see how greater competition in the retail grocery sector might improve outcomes.”
Well I hate to have to tell him this but his competition law is going to have very little impact at all if there is no security of supply, and that is exactly what we will have as a result of PC1’s restrictions on the horticultural land use.
The Health Minister David Clark is quoted as saying that raising the minimum wage, included in the new government’s 100-day plan, would make it easier for many parents to feed their children a healthy diet. He needs to be made aware that under the land use restrictions in PC1 his raising of the minimum wage, although in itself a great help to low income families, will not have any effect on feeding children a healthy diet as there will be a shortage of locally produced food to supply and this will result in increased costs to supply from outside the region.
Food security is only one of the many economic challenges that will be faced as a result, should PC1 be approved in its current form.