The horticulture sector and all its components is the outstanding performer in the New Zealand economy. The strategic plan laid down in 2007 and the follow-through has delivered a rate of growth that has outstripped any other sector.
Labour is committed to implement the same vision of success and growth to each and every primary sector to ensure farmers and growers can have a profitable and sustainable future.
Our policy focuses firstly on the need for us to have some challenging conversations. A vision that we all embrace for the primary sectors is needed. Strategic plans for each sector similar to horticulture will help sectors and government align our collective efforts.
Biosecurity is our number one issue. Everyone quotes that but relies on the oversight by MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries), a government agency with multiple responsibilities and compromised by the trade and diplomatic objectives of the National Government. Labour will separate out biosecurity and food safety into an agency that is properly resourced and focused on protecting New Zealand from unwanted pests and organisms.
Food security is not a big issue for New Zealand consumers but we have limited high productive land for intensive horticulture and growing the value of our sectors. Unlimited urban sprawl needs to be stopped and cities like Auckland made to grow up not out. The enthusiasm for growing the number of affordable houses must be matched by the enthusiasm for growing affordable food. Labour supports both and will coordinate planning to ensure both objectives are met.
Primary producers throughout the world are poor or protected. Kiwi farmers rely on market returns to survive and reward growers and workers. Labour understands the need for seasonal labour and introduced the RSE (Recognised Employer Scheme) scheme which has proved to be so successful. There continues to be pockets of worker abuse across horticulture that need to be stopped. Too few young Kiwis are inspired to seek careers in the primary sectors and Labour will work to develop better pathways from school to success in horticulture. We will encourage research and development through tax credits and direct government spending to ensure innovative solutions to workforce pressures are accelerated.
Country of Origin Labelling will be introduced under a Labour Government and will use the best wisdom from across the world to ensure the scheme is functional and effective. Our future as a food producing nation is dependant on our passion and pride for New Zealand as a place of safe food production systems. Consumers deserve the right to endorse this through knowledge and choice.
Labour had in place Healthy Eating Healthy Action throughout our schools to get ahead of the obesity epidemic. National stupidly removed it. We will reinstate a programme to improve the eating and lifestyle habits of all New Zealanders.
Labour has negotiated and supports trade agreements to increase the ability of New Zealand growers to market to the world’s most valuable and discerning customers. That is how we will survive and prosper as a nation. But trade agreements must protect our right as a sovereign nation and ensure young Kiwis have opportunities to own our future. Labour will continue to negotiate hard for high quality trade agreements
A vision for the primary sectors should be "a nation producing the world’s finest protein and fibre for the world’s most discerning customers". Labour wants to work with horticulture to build on and refine that vision. >
The enthusiasm for growing the number of affordable houses must be matched by the enthusiasm for growing affordable food.
q Primary Industries spokesman, Damien O’Connor.