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Source: Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers launches its General Election 2020 Platform today, challenging political parties in the upcoming general election to take a sensible, practical and affordable approach to tackling issues of high importance to its members.
“There’s a lot of stuff in our Platform document – plenty for politicians and their advisors to read. But in short, we are looking for a government that commits to building a solid foundation for the future of New Zealand’s agricultural industries,” Federated Farmers President Andrew Hoggard says.
“Pretty much everyone – MPs of every political stripe included – have acknowledged the primary sector will be at the forefront of helping our economy recover from the Covid-19 fallout. But ill-thought out government policies and investment decisions hinder rather than help that mission,” Andrew.
“Our Platform clearly outlines the priorities for our sector as we see them, and gives farmers and rural residents pointers to important questions to ask at meet the candidate meetings and key issues to evaluate which party to vote for.”
The Federated Farmers’ 8-point plan for creating a solid platform for a prosperous agricultural sector and thriving rural communities is outlined in its 2020 General Election Platform:
1. Continue efforts to realise the benefits of free trade:
– Recognising the importance of growing primary sector exports from its current $46.6 billion annual income base to start filling the net $10 billion hole created by the closure of the borders to tourism.
– Build New Zealand’s hard-earned international reputation of a producer of high quality and safe products.
– Strongly resist local and international pressures to increase domestic subsidies and barriers to trade.
2. Building regulatory and science systems that empower environmental gains rather than stifling enterprise and innovation:
– Current Zero Carbon Act requirements will cut livestock sector exports by $7 billion – $14 billion by 2050 – Zero Carbon methane target needs to be reviewed.
– Support for key principles in Primary Sectors Commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as outlined in He Wake Eke Noa.
– Recalibration of current essential freshwater settings that will stifle economic and employment growth – other than for planners and lawyers.
– Increased investment in science to better understand the state of the environment and to enable new solutions to be found and used.
3. Quality Government spending and management:
–  A credible roadmap to return to an affordable Government spending and taxing regime.
4.   High quality and reliable infrastructure for rural businesses and communities:
–   Increased investment in rural roads and bridges.
–  Achieving telecommunications systems for rural that matches that in urban areas.
– Develop a national water strategy to drive investment in more reliable water supplies for producing high quality food, enabling better environmental outcomes and reducing business and community vulnerability to droughts.
– Lifting proportion of energy from renewable sources above current 40% – hooking electric cars to coal-fired power stations is not the answer.
5. Meeting the challenge of getting Kiwis to work on farms:
– Recognising the important role migrant workers will play in a safe and effective transition to more Kiwis working on NZ farms.
– Ensuring skills and training programmes are fit for purpose.
6. Ensuring local government concentrates on key services:
– Local Government is caught in the middle between increased expectations from central government and communities under economic and employment stress.
–  Councils have an even more important role to run effectively and efficiently in light of COVID-19.
7. Forestry: Right tree in the right place. Current short-sighted forestry incentives will have permanent repercussions:
– ETS settings that place a high reliance on blanket forestry, particularly carbon farming, will permanently damage the viability of rural communities and ultimately stop working as carbon sinks.
–  Overseas investment rules that favour forestry need to be changed.
8. Biosecurity and Pest Management are key:
–  Continued vigilance before and at the border required to keep out a long list of nasties that threaten the primary sector and the environment.
– Continue support for initiatives to reduce impacts of weeds and pest animals, and have an open mind on the potential of GE technologies to reduce costs and improve effectiveness.