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Agriculture key to prosperity, says Finance Minister

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13 August 2011

Agriculture key to prosperity, says Finance Minister

Federated Farmers is applauding the Minister of Finance, the Hon Bill English, for highlighting primary exports as one key to future prosperity.

“It is very encouraging to hear a senior minister echo our view that with a growing global population, New Zealand’s key competitive advantage is related to the primary production of food,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers president.

“We’d like to work closer with our manufacturing and services colleagues to add greater value. As the Minister effectively said, growing our export wealth is limited only by our ability to organise ourselves.

“With red meat, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (UNFAO) ‘Food Outlook’ noted that “high feed prices, disease outbreaks and depleted animal inventories are forecast to limit the expansion of global meat production to only 1 percent in 2011”.

“The global human population annual growth rate of some 1.14 percent exceeds the production of red meat protein. The UNFAO noted that sheep meat exporters like New Zealand, need to rebuild flock numbers and that’s highly encouraging.

“The global outlook for dairy is equally bright, despite Argentina, Brazil, China and India being future growth areas. In the case of Brazil, China and India, New Zealand already has incredibly close dairy and trade relationships forming.

“There’s a fundamental realignment of our export focus to the economies of this century.

“The future hinges on continuing the trade access momentum, new infrastructure, like water storage and developing skills on and off-farm. Given the UNFAO noted livestock disease outbreaks, there’s pressing need to ensure the robustness of our biosecurity systems.

“Federated Farmers also acknowledges the need for environmental standards as this goes to the heart of efficient resource use. It’s one reason why we are such an efficient exporter and why we need to be very wary of trading that efficiency away in a world that needs our food.

“It was heartening to hear the Minister acknowledge the “incredible resilience” of exporters given the strength of the New Zealand dollar. Farmers aren’t the only game in town and it is important New Zealand exports a wide range of added value goods and services.

“While Federated Farmers knows much of the pressure on the dollar is external to our country, the Minister of Finance outlined a strong intention to limit public sector debt. The size of public borrowing has been a factor in the upside pressure on the New Zealand dollar.

“In order to grow our collective wealth, it was encouraging to hear the Minister of Finance deliver such strong backing for the tradable sector,” Mr Wills concluded.


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