Thursday, 26 March 2020 15:13

Still the bedrock — Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
The world still needs to eat. The world still needs to eat.

Amidst the coronavirus upheaval, one thing is certain – agriculture will see our economy through.

The world still needs to eat and trade channels remain open. The bedrock of New Zealand’s economy is still agriculture and our main export is of course food. 

Farms and orchards will carry on, and with our biggest market China turning a corner with its COVID-19 situation, demand for our produce will remain strong.

In fact, even when the outbreak was peaking in China, prices didn’t suffer as much as expected. In particular, dairy prices held firm. Forward demand for meat is also strong, buoyed by the impact of China’s swine fever outbreak. 

The fundamentals of food supply and demand remain strong and while there’s a case for reducing our dependence on Asian markets, we’ll be glad of our trade relationship with China during the coming months.

To get us through, farmers will need our support. They’ll need good, trustworthy information. They’ll need the usual inputs from the service and supply parts of the industry. They’ll need some breathing space from political moves that might restrict their ability to operate efficiently.

And they’ll need to know we’ve all got their backs and are grateful for their, often unheralded, contribution during these unprecedented times.

It is reassuring to know farming will get through in relatively good shape. Other parts of the economy will not be so lucky: Travel bans will be devastating for businesses and workers in tourism and the Government’s business support package will be crucial. Job losses, however, are already happening in that industry.

Agriculture is a huge job generator and the Government should be looking to help redundant workers from the tourism industry into the seasonal and permanent jobs in the primary sector. With restrictions on immigration, demand for labour will be high.

There are still some roadblocks in farmers’ way. 

Dry conditions remain a problem in many areas. More government assistance will help tide over the hardest hit until the rain returns. Banks need to do their bit as well and loosen their lending restrictions, while the Government needs to change its tone towards farmers. 

The country is going to need farmers and the primary sector more than ever.

More like this

Red meat exports exceed $1 billion

New Zealand exported red meat and co-products worth just over $1 billion during March 2021, according to the latest analysis from the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

Open MIQ spaces for farm workers

Farmers want the Government to open available space in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) to bring in much-needed workers for the primary industries.

National

Wide price range 'realistic'

Fonterra's wide forecast milk price range for the new season is realistic, says BNZ senior economist Doug Steel.

Machinery & Products

Lady muck really does suck

As anyone will attest to – if they’re married to someone with horses, have kids with ponies or are foolish…

The perfect workhorse

Hastings-based Kleer Contractors provides 24-hour machine work and labour for a local food processing plant.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

No thanks!

OPINION: A mate of this old mutt's almost choked on his dog tucker when he came across the musings of…

More sunlight

OPINION: Your canine crusader hears that not all is rosy in the world of supposed rural sector congeniality.

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter