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Thursday, 28 April 2022 07:55

Editorial: A woke joke?

Written by  Staff Reporters
Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor. Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor.

OPINION: Recently Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor made great fanfare when announcing a new farm planning system for farmers and growers.

He claims that the Government will spend more than $25 million to "expand and strengthen" the primary industry advisory sector to ensure farmers and growers have access to the highest quality farm planning, support and advice.

The new scheme will fund training of farm advisers, with successful applicants able to receive up to $22,500 per year. The scheme aims to trains up to 40 students with primary sector advisory experience to help farmers in the uptake of integrated farm planning.

This will see employers hiring new advisers, or upskilling existing staff, receiving "up to" $22,500 annually per adviser to help cover salary and training costs. Meanwhile, farm advisory businesses will be helped to provide "up to" 40 students with experience in the advisory sector. "The Government is backing farmers and growers to adapt and innovate with a package of support to strengthen the rural advisory sector," O'Connor crowed.

All well and good. On the face of it, it all seems like a positive thing for the sector. However, one only needs to dig a little deeper to see the application of these new glorified box tickers of government-implemented red tape and regulations on the farming sector is not universal.

Of course, as is this Government's wont, the new advisory scheme will focus on "growing the diversity"... "with an emphasis on attracting more women and Māori into roles".

How about just recruiting the best qualified people for these jobs - no matter what their gender or race is? If this was the case, then perhaps O'Connor's claim about "building the capacity and capability of advisory services to enable food and fibre producers to access quality support and advice" might actually be believable.

Why is this scheme giving priority "to initiatives that support Māori landowners and agribusinesses"?

Surely supporting "the uptake of integrated farm planning to make meeting consumer, market, environmental, and business needs easier and less time-consuming" should be for all for farmers and growers in NZ?

In fact, O'Connor's SOPI report shows revenue from NZ food and fibre exports is predicted to hit a record $50 billion in the year to 30 June 2022; that's all of NZ's primary sector - not just a certain Government-favoured part of it.

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