OPINION: With election day only a few days away and advance voting well underway, there appears to be a mood for change in rural and provincial New Zealand.
According to a new survey from the Bank of New Zealand – Shift Happens Agribusiness Survey – there has been a significant mindset change among NZ primary producers, with the vast majority excited about the sector’s prospects post Covid.
BNZ general manager agribusiness, Dave Handley, told Rural News the survey found that primary producers are encouraged by how important farming’s role will be in the country’s rebuild.
“A heightened awareness of essential services and food provision has increased understanding of what the primary sector means to New Zealand.”
Handley says the survey, conducted before and during the Covid-19 lockdown, found a huge shift in mindset of New Zealand’s primary producers.
“Their pre-Covid outlook improved from 58% to 89% positive about the sector’s pivotal role in supporting the New Zealand economy.”
The survey also found that less than 30% of primary producers had accessed government support during or after lockdown
“Farmers are excited about shouldering a large part of the responsibility to rebuild the economy and their prospects for the future,” Handley says.
He believes during lockdown many New Zealanders experienced limited options on the supermarket shelves and forced people to reconsider our food system and reconnect with the pasture-to-plate supply chain.
“More Kiwis now understand the important role of the primary sector and how it will steer the economy out of recession.”
Meanwhile, Handley believes New Zealand’s Covid-free status – coupled with its existing reputation for safe, sustainable, high quality food – will offer further opportunities for the primary sector.
“Consumers globally are hunting for health and seeking out items from countries that care for people, their environment and the products they produce,” he adds.
“Globally, New Zealand’s reputation is strong. We’ve beaten the virus, our economy has started up more quickly than others and our reputation for safe, high quality nutrition remains undented.”