11 Nov 2011

Contrasting response from farmers to party policies

5:45 pm on 11 November 2011

There's been a strong contrast in farmer reaction to political party election policies aimed at the primary sector.

National Party policies relating to irrigation, water management and the emissions trading scheme have generally found favour with Federated Farmers.

Green and Labour Party policies, on the other hand, have gone down like a lead balloon.

National has made increased water storage and irrigation a key plank in its primary-sector policy and says it will provide up to $400 million from the Future Investment Fund to support the construction of irrigation schemes.

It will also introduce a new Environmental Reporting Act next year which, among other things, will allow lakes and rivers to be ranked in order of cleanliness.

It will slow the phasing-in of the next stages of the emissions trading scheme and hold off on any decision to bring agriculture into the scheme until it's next reviewed in 2014, with the aim of aligning it with Australia's scheme.

Federated Farmers view

Federated Farmers vice-president William Rolleston says the federation has been pushing for investment in water storage infrastructure for some time.

He says it also believes that agriculture shouldn't come into the emissions trading scheme until there are the practical tools to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and New Zealand's competitors are also put into schemes.

Federated Farmers has stressed again it is not aligned to any political party.

But it says Labour and the Greens need to rethink their policies of bringing farm biological emissions into the emissions trading scheme by 2013.

Dr Rolleston says New Zealand has a low carbon footprint for its products, so any production that is reduced simply moves offshore - which increases the net amount of carbon being produced.

Dr Rolleston says the Green Party proposal to introduce user charges for resources such as water is also unacceptable because farmers are already paying a considerable amount for irrigation water.