PRIMARY PRODUCTION POLICY Biosecurity has been a major focus for the National Government, and will continue to be a top priority. The National Government has launched the Biosecurity 2025 Strategy, which is a major reset of the way we approach biosecurity by bringing industry and communities together with MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) to manage biosecurity risks.
The Biosecurity 2025 strategy is possible with the introduction of Government Industry Agreements (GIA) that bring industry around the table with MPI to share the decisionmaking, responsibilities and costs of preparing for, and responding to, biosecurity incursions.
There are 13 industry signatories now sitting around the table with MPI through the GIA, including Vegetables NZ Inc., Tomatoes NZ Inc., Kiwifruit Vine Health, Pipfruit New Zealand, Onions New Zealand, New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association, New Zealand Citrus Growers Incorporated, and Potatoes New Zealand.
Funding for biosecurity has increased strongly under National with the total spend for Vote Biosecurity now $248 million – the highest level ever.
This funding is supported by the Border Clearance Levy (BCL) on incoming passengers. This levy means that funding for biosecurity services at the border will now always match demand, and the costs for these services will be met by those who are exacerbating the biosecurity risk. The legislation for this levy was not supported by Labour or NZ First.
As part of Budget 2017, specific funding has also been allocated to focus on strengthening Import Health Standards, priority will be given to those standards that cover the areas of highest risk.
We are supportive of doing more work with the horticulture industry on an overall food security policy first before making any commitment to an NES (National Environmental Standard).
Over the past few years, officials have been progressing work with industry on elite soils and whether land is going to its highest value use. This includes looking at if there are any barriers to land use change. This covers planning rules, but also biophysical factors such as water availability, climate, and other issues such as labour supply and transport links. So far this work has shown there aren’t many major Government barriers through the planning system.
We acknowledge that there is a challenge for elite soils through urban expansion, which is intensified by relative land prices per hectare for housing versus for horticulture. However, there is also evidence which suggests that only half of New Zealand’s elite soils are currently used for horticulture. We therefore support further work being commissioned to investigate the exploration of suitable land throughout New Zealand for horticulture use.
We are constantly reviewing our immigration settings and are working to ensure that the quality of inward migration best supports the economy and labour market. More Kiwis are staying in New Zealand or returning home to live, work and raise families – and that’s a good thing.
We have an unashamed Kiwis-first policy, but we back our employers and will make sure that access to the international labour market is available when there is a genuine need. Recent changes to Temporary Work Visa settings have been made to reinforce the temporary nature of temporary work visas for lower-skilled/lower-paid migrants, but access to international labour has not been restricted.
Since coming into Government we have raised the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) cap from 5,000 in 2007 to 10,500 in 2017. The regions are incentivised to migrants wishing to work and live in New Zealand through the offering of 30 bonus points under the Skilled Migrant Category for migrants with a job or job offer outside of Auckland. >
Arbitrarily slashing immigration by “tens of thousands” could decimate some regions, destroying some industries and grinding others to a halt. National won’t just cut immigration for the sake of politics, especially when it is against New Zealand’s best interests. Proposed cuts from other parties would result in job losses and a slowed economy.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELLING (COOL)
National has supported a Members Bill to Select Committee to let New Zealanders have their say on this matter. We are waiting to for the Select Committee to report back with their assessment of the Bill before indicating any further support.
HEALTHY EATING EDUCATION National has been supportive of getting fruit and vegetables in schools, and is open to working with the sector on how we support greater uptake of kids eating healthy foods.
The National Government has invested about $8 million into the Fruit in Schools programme each year, and around 104,000 students will benefit from the programme. This year 543 schools took part in Fruit in Schools, which saw high quality seasonal fruit and vegetables delivered each week.
Up to 24 different types of fruits and vegetables are on the menu throughout the country and more than 20 million servings of produce were dished up over the year. Both staff and students can sample the produce, with adults taking a lead in showing kids how to enjoy tastes they might not have experienced previously.
If there’s one thing our primary industries rely on a Government to support them with, it’s opening up better market access through trade. National knows that international trade is vital to our economic success. It underpins our businesses, it creates jobs and it lifts wages.
A re-elected National Government will pursue an ambitious, outward-looking trade policy to unlock markets with 2.5 billion new consumers. This new trade access will create shiploads of jobs for Kiwis and be worth billions of dollars to our economy and businesses across the country.
In Trade Agenda 2030 we set a bold target of having 90% of our goods exports covered by free-trade agreements (FTA) by 2030. Our policy outlines the countries we will launch new FTA negotiations with, as well as those we will aim to conclude and improve agreements with, over the next three years.
Our plan would see high-quality, comprehensive FTAs launched with:
• European Union
• United Kingdom
• Sri Lanka
• Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay & Uruguay (MERCOSUR)
We are committing to complete negotiations with:
• Mexico, Chile, Colombia & Peru FTA (The Pacific Alliance)
• Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
And upgrade FTAs with:
• Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) National will also continue to push for greater access for Kiwi businesses to India, Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries of the Middle East.
YOUR PARTY SUPPORTS A TAX BEING MADE ON WATER USED FOR IRRIGATION IN RURAL AREAS?
No, National does not support a tax on water. Not only is the cost of this policy likely to impact the viability of many small businesses and the price of food, it’s also based on flimsy principles.
Proponents of proposed water tax policies say it is a form of compensation for the impact of farming on the environment, yet there is no correlation between water use and nutrient output. The impact of farming on the environment isn’t related to the amount of water used, it varies according to different farming systems. For example, horticulture uses relatively high amounts of water per unit of production but has one of the smaller environmental footprints. Industries like horticulture are therefore disproportionately affected by a water tax, which could then create perverse incentives for conversion of this land to less environmentally-friendly farming systems not as affected by a water tax.
Water is an abundant natural resource in New Zealand and one of our best competitive strengths when exporting our produce around the world. National will not tax water for the sake of anti-farming votes, and will continue to advocate for farming to be regulated on actual environmental impacts, and on a catchment-bycatchment basis.
YOUR PARTY SUPPORTS A CAPITAL GAINS TAX ON RURAL PROPERTY?
No, National does not support a capital gains tax on rural property.
q Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.