In agriculture we’ll see two changes in government policy. The first will be the policy enabling foreigners to buy farms provided they are planted in forestry or are established forests will change.
I believe there will be a tightening of criteria for offshore forestry purchases, which will be a good thing.
I also see a loosening of the rules around irrigation, though maybe that’s wishful thinking. With the drought and worse droughts predicted the practice of not encouraging water storage isn’t smart. In addition, the water shortage in Central Hawke’s Bay has graphically illustrated the short-sightedness of abandoning the dam.
The severe drought in Northland will also motivate the three political players in the region, Labour, National and NZ First into action.
We have the water but it’s running out to sea.
I also believe we will have a more mature debate around genetic modification, even if for no other reason than climate change mitigation.
Politically, my pick is Jacinda Ardern will continue to lead Labour and Simon Bridges National.
I believe Labour will win the 2020 election for a variety of reasons.
The first is that National has become Labour light in many areas. The exception is the good old tried and true issue of law and order, especially gangs, which won’t encourage a lot of votes.
National voted with the Government on two critical pieces of legislation, the gun laws and the Zero Carbon Bill despite saying they wouldn’t unless changes were made. They weren’t made yet National still went along with the Government.
The farce of the gun legislation could have taken a toll on Labour if National hadn’t effectively been part of the Government.
I pick a record turnout this election because of the two referenda. The cannabis referendum will get lot of younger people out who tend to vote Labour rather than National. Conversely, we’ll see a lot of conservative and religious types turn out for the end of life vote. While they will tend to vote National or NZ First I think the counter vote will largely neutralise the conservatives.
Third is the harsh reality that National has no credible coalition partners. There have been a raft of possible provincial parties threatening to start up but as yet there is nothing credible.
Finally, National is no longer a preferred party in the provinces, largely because of its legislative position and also for transparently pandering to the Auckland liberals rather than country voters.
I also predict Act will get at least another two MPs into Parliament. Unlike National, David Seymour has maintained a credible and independent stance.
NZ First on its current position will be lucky to make it back into Parliament. They had a natural support base in the provinces that they blew.
The Greens will also increase their vote. Their candidate selection process in 2017 was sound, bringing some young and energetic voices into Parliament. If they can do the same in 2020 they’ll be on a winner.
And farmers I’ve spoken to really rate Greens co-leader James Shaw.
Moving offshore, I predict President Donald Trump will be re-elected for two reasons. One is that just 10 months out from the election the Democrats don’t have a credible candidate.
The second is that the anti-democratic electoral college voting system will favour the Republicans.
Brexit will happen according to the Boris Johnson agreement, which will be interesting, especially as far as border security is concerned.
Back home the DairyNZ commodity levy vote will be close. The reality is science-based policy is certainly needed in the primary sector and a focused DairyNZ can provide that.
On the water issue the debate will continue but Federated Farmers will have some key wins, for which the sector will be grateful.
The fad that is regenerative agriculture, the practice of minimal soil disturbance and composting will disappear in 2020 in favour of science-based solutions.
Food supply will become a key plank in international politics with encouragement for production instead of the building of barriers.
So, 2020 is largely positive for the primary sector, in my view, of course.
After some wishful thinking here are my lighter, fictional predictions for 2020.
Shane Jones will apologise to farmers for calling then rednecks. I heard somewhere he worked as a relief milker in Kaikohe over the holiday break and now believes farmers are the new intelligentsia.
“I must start calling farmers Sir and Madam” was the quote I received.
Fish and Game will thank farmers for their stewardship of waterways and start an award system for provincial rivers.
“Without farmers and their commitment to clean waterways trout fisherpersons would be well and truly stuffed,” was the quote I heard.