Thursday, 29 August 2019 09:55

Standing up for the primary sector

Written by  Todd Muller, National Party spokesman for primary industries and forestry
National’s new agriculture, biosecurity and primary industries spokesman Todd Muller. National’s new agriculture, biosecurity and primary industries spokesman Todd Muller.

Our national debate needs to move from condemnation to celebration of our primary sector, explains new National Party spokesman for primary industries and forestry, Todd Muller.

As National's spokesman for agriculture, forestry, biosecurity and food safety, I have a duty to represent rural communities and our productive primary sector in Parliament.

National is the party for primary industries, and we’re committed to ensuring growth and stability in what is essentially the backbone of our economy.

We produce enough food to feed about 40 million people around the globe and our farmers are the most efficient producers of beef, lamb and dairy products in the world. Our reputation as a safe producer of food, underpinned by sustainable farming practices, is paramount to international consumers. Our forestry sector is also a consistently strong performer and delivers its own healthy contribution to our export receipts.

The primary sector is facing significant challenges with pressures on our historic land use flexibility, and our traditional competitive cost base having to contend with costs rising from emissions, the environment, our use of water and water quality. 

The constant advances inside and outside the farm gate need to be celebrated, and farmers deserve policy direction that gives them time to absorb, adjust and build on our world class performance, rather than excessive regulations and taxation by the Government, which shows it does not understand our rural sector.

My family has been in the kiwifruit industry 45 years, and I held management roles in Zespri and Fonterra before being elected to Parliament. Working in export companies has taught me the power of close market relationships and the scale of effort all our rural families make year on year to create valued products for the world.  

The coalition Government has pushed agriculture well down the pecking order and this needs to change. Despite strong forecasts we’re seeing agribusiness confidence at all time lows, and this is directly related to the Government seeing our primary industries as a lifestyle to be constrained and a business model to be taxed. 

Government minister Julie-Anne Genter recently said our hospitals should not be serving our home grown meat and dairy because it’s bad for the environment. And our national museum Te Papa has an exhibition suggesting that three meat- and dairy free meals per week would be a sensible way for kids to contribute to a low emissions climate. 

Our national debate needs to move from condemnation to celebration of our primary sector. 

We are among the world’s best producers of food and fibre, and we must continue to change in step with market and consumer expectations. We have huge strategic advantages in this country, rainfall in particular, so let’s act to enhance these advantages rather than find ways to constrain them. 

New Zealand’s primary sector should be booming, but the lack of support and generally regressive attitude from the coalition Government is preventing this. 

My ambition as National’s new spokesman for the primary industries is to advocate strongly for the primary sector, as I passionately believe it is a huge part of who we are as a country today, and what we will become over the next 20 years.

• Todd Muller is the National Party spokesman for primary industries and forestry.

» Connect with Rural News

More like this

Changes needed, but sensibly

With the submissions period for proposed water reforms ending last week, the National Party was out and about in the Waikato dairy heartland putting its spin on things.

Little time for farmers — Editorial

OPINION: It's clear that the Ministry for Environment is underestimating the importance of properly consulting farmers on the Essential Freshwater proposals.

» The RNG Weather Report


Soil moisture: no more looking over the fence

Farm manager Bryan Mitchell describes as brilliant the SCADAfarm systems that allow him to remotely monitor and manage the irrigation of his 300ha of leased grazing land near Kirwee.


Separation gives constant result

Effluent separation offers a number of unique advantages, and opportunities that other systems don’t offer, says farm equipment manufacturer Rakaia Engineering Ltd (REL) Group.

Cultivating the right way

Cultivation of paddocks is common on farms at this time of year. It’s also a time when local storms may occur, adding substantial risk to an important farming practice.

» Connect with Rural News

» Connect with Rural News

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Job hunting?

A mate of the Hound reckons outgoing special agricultural trade envoy Mike Petersen, who is due to finish his current…

Hot air?

With the Government wanting to implement huge costs on the livestock farming sector by making New Zealand the only country…

» Connect with Rural News