21 Feb 2014

China considers farm ban near rivers

4:27 pm on 21 February 2014

The Chinese government is considering moving farming away from major rivers in the country, saying the industry's impact on the environment in these areas is just too great.

A senior Chinese government official and agricultural expert, Chen Xiwen, told a meeting at the Beehive in Wellington this week that while agricultural productivity has been rising, China faces a number of hurdles in terms of producing its own food.

Mr Chen said farming might have to be banned or restricted along major rivers, as the effects of farm pollution are too severe.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says that's not something the New Zealand Government is considering. He says the Government is having a very robust discussion with the public, regional councils and iwi about freshwater management and how it can be better done in the future.

Meanwhile, Mr Guy used Wednesday's impressive jump in forecast export earnings for the primary sector to have a crack at opposition parties.

Forecast export returns for the year ending in June have risen by nearly $5 billion to $36 billion - on the back of strong demand from China for dairy, meat and logs and weak supply from competitors.

Mr Guy says the Labour and Green parties oppose the Government's policies - such as the Primary Growth Partnership and water storage - that he says will make agriculture thrive.

He says that leaves provincial New Zealand with a clear choice to make at this year's election.