Vegetable growers have joined other primary producers in criticising the government’s freshwater proposals:
Vegetable prices could increase by as much as 58% by 2043, risking New Zealanders’ health, if central and local government policies that will stop new vegetable growing in New Zealand are accepted.
That’s the finding of a Deloitte report prepared for Horticulture New Zealand to balance debate around land use and freshwater quality.
Deloitte found that if vegetable growers are prevented from expanding to keep up with demand, by 2043, New Zealanders could be paying as much as $5.54 in today’s money for a Pukekohe-grown lettuce, instead of about $3.50.
Sheep, beef and dairy farmers are worried about not being able to expand and fear having to contract which will reduce production and the supply of food.
‘Big increases in fresh vegetable prices will have a negative impact on the health of New Zealand’s most vulnerable communities,’ says HortNZ Chief Executive, Mike Chapman.
Increases in prices for dairy products, eggs, meat and milk will have a similar impact.
Mike says vegetable growing across the country is under a lot of pressure: competition for highly productive land, access to freshwater, climate change mitigation, the need to further protect the environment, and increasing government and council regulation.
‘If all these pressures are not well-managed in a coordinated, long-term way, New Zealand-grown fresh vegetables will become a luxury that few can afford. This will have a negative impact on most New Zealanders’ health, putting even more pressure on our health system.’
Mike says New Zealand needs to increase not decrease the growing of fresh vegetables.
‘We must increase vegetable growing so we can feed New Zealanders now and in the future, and have a healthy population.
‘Access to new irrigation to expand vegetable, fruit, berry and nut growing needs to be maintained, as it is a win-win situation.’
Mike says that what New Zealand really needs is a food security policy.
‘A move towards increased food self-sufficiency and increased domestic production will improve New Zealand’s ability to feed itself, making us less dependent on imports. This move would also ensure that fresh fruit and vegetables are more affordable, which would have a positive impact on the health of all New Zealanders, especially those who are less well off.’
. . .The report, which is based on 2015-16 data, found that “children in food insecure households had poorer parent-rated health status, poorer nutrition, higher rates of overweight or obesity, asthma and behavioural or developmental difficulties” while “parents of children in food insecure households reported higher rates of psychological and parenting stress, as well as poorer self-rated health status.”
“The stress and strain of being able to provide adequately for a family, while surviving on a very low-income places enormous pressure on parents, and often a well-balanced diet is sacrificed,” says Professor Ashton. . .
One of the group’s recommendations was to increase benefit levels. That will do nothing to help food security and the purchase power of the poor if concerns about proposals which reduce food production are realised.
It’s basic economics of supply and demand. If it becomes more difficult for horticulturalists and farmers to grow fruit, vegetables and other crops, and raise cattle, deer, pigs, poultry and sheep, they will produce less food and that will lead to higher prices.