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National's ag policy welcomed

National's ag policy welcomed
National's leader Christopher Luxon.

A promise by National to decentralise decision-making in the rural sector has been welcomed by Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers.
But a push to slash regulations has been described as a “gimmick”.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon unveiled the party’s agricultural policy yesterday, promising to cut red tape and one-size-fits-all rules for farmers.
The party also plans to reduce compliance requirements, scrap the so-called ute tax and relax immigration laws to get more workers on farms.
Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers president David Acland said National’s policy revisited a lot of the frustrations that farmers had.
He particularly welcomed the decentralised approach, which he said would allow locals to solve local problems.
“Mid Canterbury is very different from the east coast of North Island. We need to have the tools to deal with that.”
Increasing the number of workers allowed under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme to 38,000 over the next five years would also help the dairy and agricultural sectors.
The dairy sector in particular had a critical shortage of workers, he said.
“Pathways to allow immigrant farm workers to become part of the community is important too.”
However, Acland described National’s one-for-two proposal to reduce the number of farm regulations as a gimmick.
National proposed requiring both local and central government to scrap two existing regulations if they intend to introduce a new one.
“There is nothing wrong with regulation if it is done well,” Acland said.
Instead, the focus should be on good policy development.
Acland said farmers were feeling downbeat and kicked around and he would welcome any positive engagement to get farmers motivated.
National’s Rangitata candidate James Meager said farming made up a third of the Mid Canterbury economy and the associated services drive growth and jobs in almost every other sector and industry in the region.
“A National government will get Wellington out of farming and let farmers farm. We will reduce costs, remove immigration barriers to employment and scrap out-of-touch regulation.”
However, Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said the plan would take the agriculture sector back decades because its continued export growth depended on New Zealand’s environmental credentials.
“Labour’s plan is working – with total exports hitting record levels of nearly $90 billion.
“We have secured or upgraded seven Free Trade Agreements since 2017, which is in stark comparison to National’s three over nine years.
“We need to keep building on our success.”

  • By Sharon Davis