Politicians from the main political parties will be grilled on their primary sector policies at an election debate in Hamilton next week.
The Rural Issues Debate is being held at Mystery Creek Events Centre in Hamilton on Thursday, September 14, and will feature Damien O’Connor – Labour; James Shaw – Green Party; Todd McClay – National; Andrew Hoggard – ACT; and Mark Patterson – New Zealand First.
Organised by Beef + Lamb New Zealand, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, it will be moderated by radio host and columnist Heather du Plessis-Allan.
BLNZ chair Kate Acland said this will be one of the only chances to hear from the major parties about their vision and plans for rural NZ ahead of October’s general election.
“It’s tough right now in rural NZ. Profitability is under pressure and farmer confidence is low.
“The Kiwis that depend on the primary sector for their livelihoods are feeling it too. We need politicians who are prepared to stand up for rural NZ and fight for sensible, workable and practical policy,” she said.
Federated Farmers president Wayne Langford said the election is the most important in living memory for NZ farmers and rural communities.
“Farmer confidence is at record lows with a cost-of-farming crisis, rising interest rates, falling commodity prices, and a long list of new regulations adding extra pressure for farming families,” he said.
DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel said deteriorating economic conditions are having an impact on rural communities.
“It is important all parties are thinking about these issues and the impact they are having.
“We want whoever the new government is after October 14 to work with the sector on how it can help ease the pressure, support rural communities and grow new opportunities.”
The debate will be held in front of a studio audience and livestreamed from 7.30-9pm on the New Zealand Herald website.