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Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has finally accepted that the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) is a valuable initiative for the primary sector, National‘s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.

“Despite previously labelling it a ‘slush fund for National’s mates,’ Mr O’Connor has finally discovered the value of the PGP after spending $100,000 to have it reviewed.

“He was hoping the review he kicked off last summer would give him his much wanted justification to destroy it, but instead the review revealed how essential it was.

“Industry and producers knew all along that PGP was the right approach as it was turbocharging much-needed R&D in the primary sector.

“Mr O’Connor clearly knows he got it wrong, telling the recent Red Meat conference he was going to ‘swallow a small mouse’ in reference to the positive appraisal provided by his reviewer.

“This Government has established 150-odd working groups and reviews. When one reports back saying a programme is working well and delivering for New Zealand, the Minister tries to hide it.

“Mr O’Connor has already raided $17 million from the PGP to rebrand MPI, and now he’s at it again - rebranding PGP as ‘Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures programme.’

“What he’s forgotten to tell farmers, growers and processors is that he’s slashed the funding by nearly half.

“National was investing $78 million a year for PGP and the Sustainable Farming Fund. This is now reduced to just $40 million a year and makes a mockery of adding value to what we produce in partnership, by using science, research and innovation.

“Mr O’Connor needs to explain why he has halved the funding and what message this sends to our most important export sector.”

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