Saturday, December 2, 2023

Muller: Labour wants ag gone

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The Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand’s economy, National Party agriculture spokesman Todd Muller says.
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And the freshwater reforms are potentially damaging to the rural community, he told about 200 people at a meeting in Ashburton.

He is wary of new rules without factoring in the potential economic impact.

“You can only get sustainable, enduring outcomes if farmers can see a way they can farm to their limits.

“Economic, social and environmental implications are all perspectives that need to be in communications.

“That’s why we are pushing back very hard and will do if we are in government after September next year.”  

Also on his hit list are several other policy objectives including climate change, the Zero Carbon Bill and Emissions Trading Scheme.

“There has been an onslaught of compliance and policy objectives that don’t have farming interests at heat and that’s because Labour believes the vision for this economy is away from primary industries.”

Muller said it goes back 20 years to Helen Clark’s vision agriculture is a sunset industry.

“I think it comes from a fundamental philosophy held by the Labour Party that the NZ economy must diversify from its historic dependence on agriculture.

“Yes, they have backed off capital gains tax, environment tax, fertiliser tax, nutrient tax, water tax but the core of their desire is to re-orientate the economy.”

Wrapped in climate change is that agriculture in particular has to change.

“Never mind that there are no tools at our disposal to meet their proposed targets.”

Muller said the Government has finally decided it will be better to work with farmers than against them on the ETS.

“ETS from the National Party perspective is that the food we produce in NZ is the most environmentally friendly, our farmers are world leaders and we will talk with industry about how we can amplify that.

“Let’s get some perspective on where we sit, what we can do to do better and what government can do to help.”

Muller said he is not suggesting pressures to improve should go away.

“The best way to do better is with good data, good technology, time and investments in good systems that allow change to happen, driven by communities as that’s how we will get success.

“Your farms are living demonstrations that if you can see a way to do better you will do it. This is a story that this Government does not understand or respect.”

Muller sees no need to spend the next five years designing a tax system.

“Instead, National will make the solution about tools for farmers.”

So what role will gene editing play in coming up with solutions to reduce greenhouse gas?

“Simon (Bridges) has signalled we are open to strategic conversation.

“Over time there will be a consequence where we need to include GE in conversation with customer expectation and comfort.

“At the moment there is a gap. The clean, green view is still important but we need to have the conversation to at least test the customer view.

“In future I believe the gap will close,” Muller said.

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