Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Red meat puts up bipartisan wish list for sector

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Almost 40 recommendations for policies across trade, climate change, carbon farming, water and more.
Dr Jason Archer said the Beef Progeny Test allows breeds to be compared as well as bulls.
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The red meat industry has put together a package of priorities it wants the incoming government to focus on after next month’s election.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA) jointly produced a briefing to incoming ministers called Putting Meat on the Bone, saying they want a bipartisan approach to the sector.

As with other parts of the primary sector, prices for red meat are under pressure from the economic slowdown, particularly due to a fall in demand from China.

Parliament has adjourned ahead of October 14’s election. While National and ACT released their agriculture policies around National Fieldays in June, Labour has yet to release its agriculture policy.

The sector’s relationship with the current government has been on shaky ground recently, largely over He Waka Eke Noa.

Last month, the government announced farmers would have to start reporting their farm-level emissions towards the end of next year, with pricing pushed back until the final quarter of 2025.

MIA chair Nathan Guy, a former agriculture minister, said the sector’s sustainability will grow with the right policy settings. 

“But it requires government to help facilitate growth – not hinder it,” Guy said. “Having political parties taking a long-term view will help to build political consensus to get things done.”

BLNZ chair Kate Acland said the sector needs future governments to work with the livestock sector to develop an efficient and outcomes-focused regulatory framework.

“What is also clear is that our farmers are under pressure from a wave of poorly crafted regulations that are putting the viability of their farm businesses at risk. The government needs to work with us on ensuring rules are needed, fair, practical and achieve the outcomes both farmers and the country are seeking.” 

In the briefing, the sector makes nearly 40 recommendations for policies across trade, climate change, carbon farming, water, biodiversity, immigration, biosecurity, innovation and regulatory review.

For example, it wants the trade strategy to evolve to include a focus on resolving non-tariff barriers, which it estimates to add $370 million in unnecessary costs to red meat exports yearly.

In terms of water, it recommends amending the intensive winter-grazing slope trigger to 15 degrees from the current 10 degrees. The report says this rule ias currently capturing “far more areas of land than is necessary for the risk”.

It also recommends the Natural Built Environment Act be reviewed.

The briefing says that where agencies have a shared interest in a policy area, it is “vital that they are required to work collaboratively” in a whole-of-government approach to break down “entrenched silos” and speed up policy development.

“To do this, agencies need to be given shared quantifiable targets that they are collectively responsible for achieving,” it says. 

Depending on coalition arrangements, there are multiple contenders to be agriculture minister after a government is formed.

Damien O’Connor holds the agriculture and trade portfolios in the current government, and Jo Luxton holds the associate agriculture portfolio responsible for animal welfare. 

Luxton was promoted from chair of the Primary Production Select Committee to a parliamentary under-secretary for agriculture after Chris Hipkins became prime minister earlier this year. After Meka Whaitiri defected to Te Pāti Māori, Luxton was promoted to the ministerial portfolio.

Todd McClay is the National Party’s spokesperson for agriculture and trade. Nicola Grigg holds the associate agriculture and rural communities, animal welfare, biosecurity and food safety portfolios. 

ACT’s current agriculture spokesperson is Mark Cameron. He will likely be joined by former Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard, who stands for the party with a high list ranking.

Meanwhile, Teanau Tuiono is the Green Party’s agriculture spokesperson.

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