28 Jun 2013

Market access problems not due to funding cuts - minister

6:36 am on 28 June 2013

Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has appeared before the Primary Production Select Committee, where she was asked about the recent market access troubles New Zealand meat has had in China, and apples in Russia.

Labour Party agriculture spokesperson Damien O'Connor asked the minister if the Government had cut the Food Safety Authority's funding by too much.

Mr O'Connor said since 2008 for standard setting, which is one part of the safe food regime, the Government has reduced the budget from $31 million to $20 million and that's just part of the internal budget reduction.

"So the question is how are you going to give any more assurance when the amount of money is going down and the number of stuff-ups is going up?"

Assoc Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye.

Assoc Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye. Photo: NATIONAL PARTY

But Ms Kaye replied that the market access issues aren't related to funding and issues such as this have always arisen.

She said she's been told by those in the meat industry that they have had decades building relationships with some countries, but the relationship is very new with other nations.

Ms Kaye said there is a review underway regarding the issues around meat certification and ministers will be looking very closely at that review to see whether processes can be improved.

"But I do not agree with you that this Government is not spending more than ever around food exports and food innovation because we are."