11 Sep 2014

Farmer lobby group takes on Greens

7:21 am on 11 September 2014

Federated Farmers wants Green Party politicians kept away from agricultural and science portfolios should the Greens be a part of the next Government.

Launching its general election manifesto yesterday, Federated Farmers president William Rolleston said the Green Party wanted to limit agriculture to reduce its impact on the environment.

farm worker on tractor


Dr William Rolleston

Dr William Rolleston Photo: Supplied

"Those problems are going to be solved by science not by slashing agriculture, and that's where we see a fundamental difference in the strategy that the Greens would put in place ... compared to the other parties."

Dr Rolleston said the Greens were weak on agricultural science. "Our issue in terms of the science portfolio is that the Greens have put a lot of emphasis on the physical sciences and almost nothing onto agriculture and developing agriculture within an environmental footprint."

But the Greens' co-leader Metiria Turei said Federated Farmers represents a very small proportion of New Zealand farmers and its views were largely irrelevant. "I have no real interest in their views," she said.

"At our smart farming launch it was very clear that farmers around the country are wanting to engage in smart farming, to make choices that are wise for both their environment they are living off and for the economy, for their business, and they can do that and are looking to the Greens to provide leadership on that."

Labour Party primary industries spokesperson Damien O'Connor says he takes what Dr Rolleston says "with a pinch of salt."

"We want agriculture to move ahead, we know that we need to do it in an environmentally responsible way we need to build our brand and in those things the Greens and Labour should share many of the same policies."

Though it is sometimes dismissed by parties on the left as the National Party in gumboots, Federated Farmers insists it is apolitical and just wants the best for farmers.

Russel Norman and farmer Mike Moss.

Greens' co-leader Russel Norman and Raglan farmer Mike Moss at the launch of the final part of the party's rivers policy. Photo: RNZ / Craig McCulloch