New Zealand could be to food what Apple is to technology, Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said in launching the organisation’s election manifesto.
New Zealand, we believe, has the real potential to be to food what Apple is to technology. Innovative, lithe and smart. Creating products that people not only need, but desire and aspire to.
Our 2011 Manifesto is all about realising the immense opportunity we have as a nation in a world with seven billion mouths, a milestone reached only yesterday.
There’s a genuine opportunity to at least double the primary sector’s current $31 billion export contribution over the next 39 years. This would be good for all New Zealanders. Good for everyone alighting from the trains here this morning and good for every New Zealander yet to be born.
Agriculture, from grass through to the manufacturers, is our key economic advantage. As are our factory workers, research scientists, marketers, designers and managers. It’s what we know and what we do best. The global possibilities with food are frankly endless.
This is not to say we can’t do other things well. It is not agriculture or other ways of earning our way in the world and can be agriculture and the production of other goods and services
There’s an old but accurate farming cliché, that to be green, you’ve got to be in the black. It is critical that our farms and our country are economically and environmentally sustainable. They are really flipsides of the same coin.
Federated Farmers is not aligned to any political party and its manifesto is aimed at them all.
Being apolitical, we hope whoever forms the next government will sit down and talk with us about a positive policy agenda. Federated Farmers is focused on growing a highly successful economy.
You see, farmers learned the hard way what being over-extended with debt means. It’s a lesson government needs to heed because what it spends has to be earned by taxpayers first. That’s a point we seem to easily forget these days.
Federated Farmers wants value for money from our public services. Government spending should not be about the headline figure, but what that spending delivers economically, socially and environmentally. Less could mean much, much more.
There is a big role for government to invest wisely with strategic infrastructure. That’s been the case with Broadband and Federated Farmers will continue pushing for ever faster speeds.
Being able to access daily milk production reports, herd records, killing sheets, and do billing and payments on line keeps farmers in touch with processors, suppliers, banks and accountants, There is a lot of potential for using technology for traceability and stock monitoring and recording too they depend on fast and reliable internet connections.
One other area we will push is water storage. Water represents New Zealand’s strategic ace by removing the annual lottery all New Zealanders face from La Niña, El Niño or a changing climate.
A bad drought costs billions but drought should be the one word missing from our vocabulary. Our rainfall is plentiful but we miss opportunities with most of it washing out to sea.
Water storage creates options. Real options for new types of farming and new types of farmers. When you put that together with enhanced communication and transportation links, these options are vital to attract talented urban and rural people into farming.
Farmers haven’t been at all impressed with water policies from Labour and the Green Party, in particular the plan to charge for water.
Helping tomorrow’s farmers demands clear educational pathways with ongoing professional development. Farming remains a knowledge-led profession.
It may also surprise some that farmers want clean water too. All the farmers I know work hard to leave their farm in a better state than they found it. The land is not just our workplace, it’s our home.
Yet New Zealand’s higher global obligation, in a world of seven billion mouths, is to be the most efficient food producer we can be. It’s hard to get there when New Zealand is the only country on earth looking to put the primary sector’s biological emissions into an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Feeding 10 billion mouths by 2050 is the great global challenge and the one area where New Zealand can be a true world leader. Including agriculture’s biological emissions in the ETS, purely a domestic decision, only invites less efficient countries to take our markets.
Then again, agriculture is already in the ETS with the rest of New Zealand. We pay it directly on our fuel and electricity and indirectly on virtually everything we use and no, we don’t get a rebate either.
We must remember that the ETS arose from the late 1990’s and the last decade. We’ve got to look to the future and not to the past when one in seven billion humans, right now, goes hungry. Our ability to grow and process food and fibre can make a world of difference, but it also demands a completely new political mindset.
Federated Farmers believes in the positive contribution we can make now and into the future. This is why New Zealand could become the Apple of food by way of primary food production, manufacturing, distribution and consultancy.
Federated Farmers wishes to play a big part in New Zealand’s positive global future. Our 2011 manifesto is a tangible compact to farm forward and farm together.
The manifesto is here.