Tuesday, December 5, 2023

New role for Pāmu in NZ First policy

Neal Wallace
Use state farms to give would-be farmers a leg up, party proposes.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Pāmu farms should be used as stepping stones to help young farmers enter the industry, according to New Zealand First’s agricultural policy.

Mark Patterson, the party’s agriculture spokesperson and Taieri electorate candidate, said three themes have shaped the party’s policy on agriculture: growing the sector, eliminating one-size-fits-all government regulations and a focus on the basic issues such as biosecurity, rural infrastructure and weed and pest control.

“It’s stuff farmers actually want,” he said.

Patterson said growing trade is even more important given NZ’s ballooning current account deficit.

“The primary sector has a critical role dealing with that.”

Its policies include a pathway to farm ownership that involves changing the legal definition of Pāmu from being a state-owned enterprise to a Crown entity, so that select properties can be share-farmed or share-milked to help young people into the industry.

Other policies include a pledge not to price emissions unless trading partners do the same.

Patterson said He Waka Eke Noa found it impossible to determine an equitable price for agricultural greenhouse gases across the sector and, given the declining economic conditions, this is not right time to introduce it.

NZ First supports standardised farm-level reporting of greenhouse gases and said it would incentivise the adoption of mitigation measures such as low methane genetics by using funds redeployed from the purchase of overseas carbon credits.

“We will use more carrot than stick,” said Patterson.

It also promises to strengthen property rights, saying the National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity threatens those rights.

Patterson said the party’s forestry policy is an extension of its Billion Trees policy, which aims to have the right tree planted in the right place.

Its policy is to protect productive farmland by excluding plantation forestry on land use class 1, 2 and 3 and limiting it to no more than 25% on Class 4 land.

Harvesters would have a legal duty to contain and remove post-harvest slash, foreign investors would be banned from buying farms for conversion to forestry and shelter belts, and farm forestry would be recognised for sequestering carbon.

The party intends to establish a rural infrastructure fund, a new version of the Provincial Growth Fund, which would be focused on rural projects such as flood bank construction, water storage and irrigation investment and bridges.

“We have seen in Hawke’s Bay that we need to have world-class flood protection and infrastructure, which is only going to get harder as we get more extreme weather events.”

Other policies include government departments using natural fibre products such as carpet, and replacing water quality agency Te Mana O te Wai with reinstated water-quality wellbeing provisions.

It wants regulations eased to allow irrigation, water storage, managed aquifer recharge and flood protection.

It would also reinstate live animal shipments by air or sea using customised vessels with a requirement to follow stringent animal welfare standards.

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