22 May 2015

Budget good news for farmers says Guy

3:41 pm on 22 May 2015

This year's Budget brings good news for farmers, with extra funding for animal welfare and biosecurity, the Primary Industries Minister says.

Nathan Guy said $25 million would be spent over the next four years to strengthen biosecurity.

He said there would be more focus on import health standards, to ensure they kept pace with changing science, as well as boosting detector dog capacity and installing more x-ray machines. Mr Guy said the Government would also introduce a biosecurity levy for international travellers.

Nathan Guy

Nathan Guy Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

"We've been discussing this for a while now and we're very keen to move to a user-pays model instead of Crown funding.

"It's very appropriate because when you have a look at other countries around the world that we like to compare ourselves with, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia all have something very similar to the direction New Zealand now wants to move."

Mr Guy said the levy would more than likely be built into ticket costs.

He said a $10 million boost for animal welfare would help to crack down on those who were not complying with new stricter rules and said the recently-passed Animal Welfare Act would strengthen compliance.

"The SPCA play a vital role in supporting the Ministry for Primary Industries so we will be funding them as well."

He said there was also good news for students intending to study agriculture at university.

"It's $86 million over four years and it's going to be targetted at the tuition rates of degree level courses and above...it's a 20 percent increase," he said. Mr Guy said he would be making several more announcements relevant to farmers over the next few weeks.

Opposition reaction to yesterday's Budget has been mixed.

Extra funding for regional research and agricultural education was generally welcomed, but questions were raised over funding for biosecurity.

New Zealand First primary industry spokesperson, Richard Prosser, said he would ask for clarification on whether international passenger levies would mean additional funding for biosecurity.

"Funding for biosecurity is a little up in the air, I'm going to have some questions for the minister later on today as to whether the levy that's being charged, on arriving and departing passengers, is going to be additional funding, or whether it's actually replacing the existing funding stream, because there seems to be some kind of ambiguity in some of the statements coming out of both MPI and the Government itself."

Labour primary industry spokesperson, Damien O'Connor, said funding for biosecurity was the most significant announcement for the sector.

"The Government's finally acknowledged that cuts they made early on have been a failure, and that they have to put more money into biosecurity. This is good news because everyone has been aware of the risks that we've been facing."

But Mr O'Connor said the Government was still lacking a clear vision of where it wanted to go with agriculture, other than doubling exports by 2025.

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