The biggest threat to the primary sector – right now – is if COVID-19 gets into a processing plant, says Mike Petersen, former special trade envoy and Beef + Lamb chair.
"So why is it in recent weeks we are seeing subsidised American milk powder being kicked in our faces? And what are the other so-called farming leaders doing about it?," he asked at the Agcarm conference in Auckland today.
In the 1980s and 1990s our farmers went cold turkey yet discovered there was Life after Subsidies, he said. Agricultural subsidies are the farming equivalent of crack cocaine.
"If there was ever a cause for us to galvanise the developing world behind us, it is subsidies. Yet our silence on this at the UN Security Council is deafening," he said.
"In Britain, their National Farmers' Union admitted that European subsidies are worth £175 to £200 per hectare, or about $31,000 to $36,000 every year for the average British farm.
"What does the TPPA do about the US$110bn worth of subsidies paid each year to American, Canadian, Mexican and Japanese farmers? Nothing. What will the more farcical European Union FTA do about €50bn in European subsidies? There's not a mutter, not a murmur, not a syllable, not a sound. Nothing."
This is why we are underwhelmed by Mr Key's claim, first that benefits would be $5b per annum by 2025, now drastically trimmed back by his officials to $2.7B by 2030.
Peters claimed if the TPP is ever "fully implemented" then total tariff and duty reductions will, with a fair wind someday amount to $608m.
While tariff reductions are good per se, they become 30 pieces of silver if the $260bn in competitor annual farm subsidies are made untouchable in the process, he said.