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Back Growth By Backing Agriculture, Government Told

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"With the Government's economic ministers meeting in Wellington this Thursday, Federated Farmers has offered five words of advice, 'back growth by backing agriculture'," says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

The Federation pointed the Government to its 2008 Election Manifesto, which covers a spectrum of policy issues focussed on farmer viability and to ensure New Zealand farms profitably for generations to come. The Federation also raised its current campaign for enhanced water storage, with the aim of turning summer into a fully productive season. Water storage being remarkably low cost infrastructure. The Federation also asked for a comprehensive review of all current programmes to generate savings that could be redirected into other areas to provide short-term stimulus and long-term economic gain.

"A sea-change in Treasury and in Government is needed because the negative economic impact of drought is well known. The 2008 drought cost New Zealand $1.4 billion and helped tip the economy into recession.

"The positive thing about water storage is the ability to transform summer, in many regions, into a highly productive season by taking advantage of long daylight hours to maximise growth.

"Not only that, water storage can be used to generate sustainable energy and to guarantee minimum flows. This is why it is an economic magic bullet. New Zealand needs a 'Water Wave' given we don't lack for water, just storage.

"Economic decisions are also about getting value from the spend. Auckland's Waterview connection is needed, it makes sense, it stacks up economically, but not as a tunnel, which adds an extra $1 billion to the construction cost. Take part of that billion and use it for water storage while using the balance to fund things like the Transmission Gully route, killing hospital waiting lists, delivering rural broadband and so much more.

"The Government could also save taxpayers in the future at least $10 million a year by disbanding the National Animal Identification and Tracing Governance Group. For farmers, this move would save them millions of dollars more.

"The millions saved could be invested into improved food assurance by way of the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and to boost border controls to keep the bad stuff out. I just don't see the point of an expensive 'ambulance at the bottom of the cliff' when we have a sorry recent record, as the Painted Apple Moth, Varroa, Didymo, Argentinean Ants and the Mediterranean fanworm demonstrate.

"A disciplined approach by Government frees up money to be better invested where economic gains will be maximised. Back growth by backing agriculture," Mr Nicolson concluded.

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