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Govt backs farmers and their work with new laws

The passing last night of the Farm Debt Mediation and NAIT laws shows the Government’s commitment to working alongside and helping farmers, says Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

“These new laws are necessary to address the previous Government’s nine years of neglecting the big issues facing the primary sector.

“By passing these pieces of legislation the Coalition Government has helped ensure the future sustainability of the sector.

“The Farm Debt Mediation Act supports the mental, emotional and financial wellbeing of farmers and farming families who find themselves in financial strife.

“Total farm debt in New Zealand is $62.8 billion – up 270 per cent on 20 years ago.

“The failure of a farm business can lead to the farmer and their family losing both their business and their home. For many rural communities the failure of one farm can have a ripple effect through those communities and the regional economy.

“Farmers who operate a family business often don’t have the resources to negotiate their own protections when dealing with lenders.

“This scheme will help to provide certainty for those facing the hard challenge of paying back debt. It’ll provide a way to help them get through, so they can get on with running their businesses and supporting their families.”

Mr O’Connor said the ongoing efforts to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis highlighted flaws in the NAIT scheme.

“The previous government set up the scheme and then let it languish, with little to no oversight and no consequences for lack of compliance. We’ve addressed their inaction and created the animal tracing scheme New Zealand needs to keep our primary sectors and economy safe.

“We’ve done our best to make compliance easier for farmers, including transition periods where possible to help farmers adjust. Combined, these steps will see real changes for the industry and improvements to our biosecurity system.”

“We had great cooperation from industry to help improve the Act quickly and efficiently, and now we have a NAIT system that’s fit for the future.”

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