Reports from the cattle industry that the Government is effectively forcing it outside its mandate to contribute towards biosecurity incursions are extremely concerning, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“The Government Industry Agreement (GIA) that the National Government established in 2013 set out a framework for cost-sharing between the Government of the day and various industry groups as and when biosecurity incursions arise,” Mr Guy says.
“The cost-share for any particular incursion – whether it’s fruit fly or Mycoplasma Bovis – is agreed between MPI and the signatories to the deed. So far 16 primary sector organisations have signed up to the GIA, and it is endorsed by farmers and growers around the country.
“However, I am extremely concerned to hear that in a recent meeting with the Minister Damien O’Connor he was pressuring industry to make contributions of up to 50 per cent.
“Even more concerning are the projected cost ranges industry has been given. They’ve been told by the Minister that $450 million is needed for a ‘phased eradication’, $500 million for ‘rapid eradication’, $570 million for ‘long term management’ or a whopping $870 million to close out the response.
“When the cattle industries confirmed initial funding of $11.2 million they did so without precedence but in the understanding the GIA is the current model for cost sharing.
“Once again this big-spending Coalition Government has its begging bowl out and is going cap in hand to farmers around the country asking them to stump up and pay for response costs when a formula already exists in the GIA agreement.
“Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters inherited one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD. Yet they have signalled they’re going to borrow an extra $10 billion to pay for things like free tertiary education, rather than helping protect our rural economy.
“I’m calling on Damien O’Connor to stand up for our rural communities and fairly fund the Government’s response without passing the buck to farmers,” Mr Guy says.