Wednesday, 15 July 2020 10:12

Nats hit the rural hustings

Written by  Mark Daniel
National’s agriculture spokesman David Bennett suggests the current drive for sustainability needs to be driven by using good scientific evidence and a consistent approach that doesn’t hurt the key primary sector players. National’s agriculture spokesman David Bennett suggests the current drive for sustainability needs to be driven by using good scientific evidence and a consistent approach that doesn’t hurt the key primary sector players.

National’s Waikato team of David Bennett and Tim van der Molen have been spreading the party word at a series of farmer meetings around the region.

Bennett, now the party’s agriculture spokesman, following Todd Muller’s recent move to leader, focused on the issues likely to affect agriculture. He claimed National’s ag polices aimed to drive momentum. 

Starting out by commending the current Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett raised the question of how New Zealand will pay its bills in the future. He intimidated that the current Labour/NZ First coalition’s policies were reactionary, rather than visionary.

With all the major political parties agreeing that sustainable agriculture, horticulture and viticulture will be vital in a post-Covid future, Bennett suggested that the current drive for sustainability needs to be addressed. 

He says this needs to be driven by using good scientific evidence and a consistent approach that doesn’t hurt the key primary sector players. He also adds that these key players and the regulatory authorities must be open to discussions about structured changes and redevelopment.

On the vexed issue of water, Bennett – a dairy farmer in Te Awamutu, Waikato – says three areas need to be investigated.

“Namely, water storage to combat summer shortages or drought conditions. Water-takes to ensure river and streams remain viable in the dryer months. And the needs of urban NZ – in the domestic and industrial sectors.”

Bennett suggested that unemployment will rise to around 10%. On the vexed issue of employment and migration, he says the farming sector faces a serious shortage of skilled labour and will need to bring more skilled migrant workers into the country. 

“This will undoubtedly prove to be a major challenge, given that our borders are unlikely to open at any time soon,” he explained. 

“So, the Government should be working to extend the terms of any immigrants already in NZ, whose visas are coming to an end in the near future.”

In the same vein, Bennett warned of a looming issue for the rural contracting sector as we approach the harvest season in August/September and the possibility of harvest being delayed or corners cut.

“As the borders are likely to remain closed, they [ag contractors] will be unable to secure the traditional cohort of skilled northern hemisphere operators for high value, high tech harvesting machinery.” 

Bennett suggested that the “re-training” of displaced New Zealanders should have started earlier to address this escalating problem. 

He also disputes claims by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, who suggested specialists coming to NZ annually amounted to around 350 people. 

“In my region alone, the Irish army measures around 100 people, so the Government does not really understand the scale of the problem nationally.”

More like this

Nats new first woman of Ag

The National Party's new agriculture spokesperson says she'll be working from the grassroots up, rather than the top down, as she tackles her new role.

Migration essential for the future

OPINION: The New Zealand dairy sector attracts the best and brightest from around the world; aspirational farmers that want to make the highest quality products in the best environment.

David Who?

OPINION: Your old mate hears that the question, who exactly is the National Party's spokesman, is one of the biggest mysteries in farming circles since the rabbit calicivirus was illegally released back in 1997.

Quitters?

OPINION: This old mutt wonders what it is about tall, balding, ex-Fonterra executives and their (non) ability to handle life once they leave the safety of the big dairy co-op.

National

Guy standing for Ravensdown

Former Agriculture Minister and Horowhenua dairy farmer Nathan Guy is standing for election to the Ravensdown board of directors.

Nats new first woman of Ag

The National Party's new agriculture spokesperson says she'll be working from the grassroots up, rather than the top down, as…

Machinery & Products

Helps tame the wind!

Amazone's recently released WindControl System automatically monitors and adjusts the spreading pattern to compensate for the effect of the wind…

First Claas patent hits a century

While Claas has registered more than 3,000 patents during its 108-year history, the company is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary…

JD invests in robotics

Global giant Deere and Co has acquired Silicon Valley start-up company Bear Flag Robotics, which specialises in autonomous driving technologies…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Too many hits?

OPINION: Well-known professional protestor, John Minto has run off at the mouth without checking his facts.

Good question!

A mate of the Hound's thinks it was more than a bit dodgy when DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter