Dairy and red meat farmer lobbies want Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to back their climate change initiative rather than impose a farmer levy.
It seems all the long term challenges to the primary sector are on the table at the same time, she said.
“I want you to know, feel and experience that we too are focused on these issues and equally on supporting you as we navigate these issues,” she told the conference.
“This transition is not easy, but it will be less jarring if we start early.”
The PM said the pursuit of quality free trade agreements (FTAs) is a top priority for her Government.
They want quality, modern, enduring and progressive FTAs that adhere to the rules based systems of the WTO and open doors for NZ food and fibre products to shine as the best in premium markets.
“We should settle for no less,” Ardern said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor urged the primary sector to engage and connect with and better understand Maori. Maori agribusiness will be a big part of NZ’s future, he said.
NZ must better connect with Maori and their aspirations, so appreciating and adopting their values of kaitiakitanga (guardianship and wise utilisation, not preservation) and manaakitanga (sharing goods we have with others), O’Connor said.
“These things will drive us into the future. More consumers are looking for sustainability in our products and more people want to know we care about our environment and are engaged in climate change initiatives.”
He says NZ must be the Swiss watch producer of protein products – “the very, very best”. These must be worthy of the highest possible prices, bought by people less concerned about price than about value.