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

Something for NZ to celebrate

National's agriculture spokesman David Bennett says the Government should take note of new research confirming the New Zealand dairy industry’s low carbon emission profile.

Govt must take note - Bennett

National's agriculture spokesman David Bennett says the Government should take note of new research confirming the New Zealand dairy industry’s low carbon emission profile.

The day blue turned red — Editorial

OPINION: The result of the election result was not a surprise, but the extent of National’s demise probably was to many blue MP’s who lost their seats.

National

Job losses worry meat sector

New Zealand's meat processing industry says, while it supports moves away from coal, it has some major concerns about cuts…

Manawatu's economy bouncing back

Although the national economy is still functioning below pre-pandemic levels and the road ahead remains uncertain, the Manawatu region appears…

Machinery & Products

Real handy in all situations

Listening to customers across all sectors of agriculture helps the Handypiece team design and engineer options to make its unit…

Film binding now available

The Kuhn VBP 3100 series variable chamber baler-wrapper combination can now be equipped with the patented Kuhn Twin-reel film binding…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Great idea

OPINION: Your old mate has long argued Landcorp’s farming business – Pamu – is a bigger dog than he is.

Unemployable?

OPINION: Your canine crusader shakes his head at the complete lack of practical and real-world knowledge in both government and…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter