Wednesday, 08 September 2021 12:55

Nats new first woman of Ag

Written by  Peter Burke
National's new agriculture spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger with former Prime Minister John Key. National's new agriculture spokeswoman Barbara Kuriger with former Prime Minister John Key.

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.

The Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger has been handed the agriculture role in Judith Collins' latest reshuffle of portfolios. She takes over from Waikato-based list MP David Bennett who has been handed the transport, horticulture and biosecurity portfolios.

She describes being appointed National's agriculture spokeswoman is a "dream come true".

Kuriger is the first woman to hold the agriculture role in either National or Labour. She has had a lengthy career in dairy farming and agribusiness - including being a former board member of DairyNZ, Primary ITO and the Dairy Women's Network. In 2012, she was named the Dairy Woman of the Year.

Kuriger says since her appointment to the agriculture role, she's been speaking with rural leaders and advocacy groups. She says she and her team are "fizzing and ready to go".

Kuriger says part of her new role is to hold the Government to account and that she's yet to see a workable and warranted proposal from them.

"Creating change with no concept of food production is not helpful or useful," she told Rural News. "Labour has drafted a raft of regulations, altered others, and enacted unintended uses of various bits of legislation, leading to the enormous pressure now on the agricultural sector. And farmers have had a gutsful. It's too much, too fast."

Kuriger says the broad brush approach to farming will do nothing to either fix or support what the Government claims the outcomes will be.

 "I intend to be out and about... I just really live for agriculture and rural communities.

"It's my reason for being in Parliament, and I'll be giving the Government a bit of a shake up."

Other changes of note in the latest Collins reshuffle sees Stuart Smith pick up Viticulture, Tim van Molen - Animal Welfare, and Nicola Grigg - Trade and Export Growth.

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