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Agriculture: Labour will take up quality challenge

Labour Leader

Thursday, 20 October 2011 MEDIA STATEMENT
Agriculture: Labour will take up quality challenge

Labour will reverse the current approach to overseas investment in agricultural land, amend monetary policy to make the exchange rate more stable and restore R and D tax credits as part of its plan to promote and protect New Zealand’s future, says Labour Leader Phil Goff.

Launching Labour’s Agriculture Policy in Napier today, Phil Goff said: “People are New Zealand’s most valuable asset. The next is our land.

“If our economy is to grow in the way we want, we must build on the success of our primary sector. We need to do this through innovation and by growing quality rather than quantity. That is part and parcel of becoming a first choice supplier to the world.”

Phil Goff said New Zealand cannot afford to lose control of “our best income-producing assets”.

“No overseas person has the right to buy our land. It should be a privilege. And it should remain that way.

“Labour will reverse the current approach so that overseas buyers have to prove they offer additional value to the country. Sales will be declined unless the potential foreign purchaser of farm or forestry land also invests in significant further processing and related jobs that wouldn’t otherwise occur.

“Labour is also committed to protecting the returns farmers deserve for the quality of their work. While the total value of exports doubled between 1999 and 2008, our recent high and unpredictable exchange rate has left many farmers struggling. Like the rest of the country they should be doing much better.

“Labour will amend the Reserve Bank of NZ Act 1989 to broaden the Bank’s primary function so that it includes stability of the currency to give farmers and exporters greater certainty,” Phil Goff said.

“Much of our future depends on high value, high quality, sustainable agriculture. Labour believes the Government has a role in encouraging more efficient and environmentally sustainable farming and the development of new products.

“We will do this in a number of ways --- including doubling the Sustainable Farming Fund (to $16 million), and reinstating a 12.5 per cent R and D tax credit,” Phil Goff said.

Other elements in Labour’s Agriculture policy - Labour will:

• Commission independent investigations of industry sector structures to maximum value. Where most producers in a sector want change, Labour will facilitate this.
• Support absolutely the co-operative structure of Fonterra owned and controlled by New Zealand farmers.
• Support research, training and skills development in every sector.
• Support the formation of more industry co-operatives like Zespri to market New Zealand produce, and encourage the evolution of the 100 per cent Pure NZ marketing campaign to include quality, environmentally-sustainable products and agricultural exports.
• Ensure agriculture is part of any new free trade negotiations.
• Ensure certainty and security around water supply and quality.

Phil Goff said that, as previously announced, Labour will commit agriculture to the ETS at the original date of 2013 instead of National’s deferred date of 2015.

“Low carbon farming techniques have the potential to become a competitive advantage for New Zealand’s agricultural sector. Labour will help Kiwi farmers by providing additional support for research and implementing better farming practices,” Phil Goff said.

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