A National Government will partner with farmers and growers to develop new farming technology and practices that lift productivity and further reduce farming’s environmental footprint.

“National will turbo-charge the Sustainable Farming Fund, which will be renamed the Future of Farming Fund, by boosting its funding from $7 million to $20 million per year for investment in agricultural science and innovation,” Primary Industries spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“We know we have some great emerging technologies and techniques like precision farming. We also increasingly have the latest communications networks as a result of our Rural Broadband Initiative. This fund will take that technology and roll it out around our farming sector.

“A cross-sector Future of Farming Panel will oversee the Fund’s direction and drive the innovation and investment. The panel will include representatives from industry, science and environmental groups and other stakeholders.

“Food production is hugely important to this country. We are the world’s largest dairy exporter and we account for three quarters of the world’s trade in sheep meat. We produce high quality food more efficiently than anyone else and our farmers strive to do that with as little environmental impact as possible.

“This Fund will take us to the next level of sophistication in world-leading farming practices.”

Mr Guy says working together is a much better way to achieve change than being at loggerheads with the farming sector and regional New Zealand.

“As we are showing already, we can achieve far greater things in new farming practices by working with farmers and not against them. We can improve our environmental footprint while at the same time growing the value of our exports, growing jobs and growing the strength of regional New Zealand,” Mr Guy says.

“Our opponents might think punitively taxing farmers is the right approach, but you won’t get better environmental outcomes by making farmers and regional New Zealand poorer.

“To help focus the Future of Farming Panel and industry, we will set a target of doubling the value of our agritech industry to $6 billion by 2025,” Mr Guy says.

“We want the latest soil sensors, farm management software and diagnostic tools all developed and used here, and exported to the world.

“Through the Future of Farming Fund we can achieve more productivity and sustainability, and create more jobs by exporting our agricultural technologies and expertise around the world.

“There is a clear divide in this election between those that want to work with the farming sector and those that want to punish it, with four new taxes at last count.

“National understands regional New Zealand and will work with our primary industries to improve our environmental footprint and stay at the cutting edge of farm technologies worldwide.”

The new funding of $13 million per annum will come from Budget 2018’s operating allowance.

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