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Important election for rural communities

Important election for rural communities
Kate Acland

Rural New Zealand faces one of the most important elections this October, according to Federated Farmers.

National president Wayne Langford said this was the most important election in living memory for New Zealand’s farmers and rural communities.

“Farmer confidence is at record lows with a cost-of-farming crisis, rising interest rates, falling commodity prices, and a long list of new regulations adding extra pressure for farming families.

B+LNZ chair Kate Acland said it was a tough time in rural New Zealand right now.

“Profitability is under pressure and farmer confidence is low.”

Acland said Kiwis who depended on the primary sector for their livelihoods were feeling it too.

“We need politicians who are prepared to stand up for rural New Zealand and fight for sensible, workable and practical policy.”

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), DairyNZ and Federated Farmers have teamed up to organise a rural issues debate with the major political parties, moderated by radio host Heather du Plessis-Allan on September 14.

The debate featuring Damien O’Connor (Labour), James Shaw (the Green Party), Todd McClay (National), Andrew Hoggard (ACT), and Mark Patterson (New Zealand First) will be livestreamed from 7.30pm-9pm.

“The Rural Issues debate provides an opportunity to shine a light on the issues that impact those of us that live in rural New Zealand and for all the main political parties to explain how their policies will make a difference to our primary sector,” Acland said.

DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said rising costs and declining milk prices were already having a significant effect on rural communities.

“It is important all parties are thinking about these issues and the impact they are having.

“We want whoever the new Government is after October 14th to work with the sector on how it can help ease the pressure, support rural communities, and grow new opportunities.”

Given farmers’ significant contribution to local rural communities and New Zealand’s economy Van der Poel said it was vital for New Zealand that farmers succeed.

“It would be great to hear from the candidates on how they see the new government working with the sector to ensure we have a common view on our future role,” he said.

For a local Rangitata perspective, Ashburton Rotary and Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers will be hosting a meet the candidates forum at the Ashburton Event Centre on October 4.

by Sharon Davis