National To Cut Red Tape To Boost Primary Sector

New Zealand’s economy depends on its primary sector so National will unleash investment in water storage, and cut the red tape that’s holding back food production, National’s Agriculture and Trade spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“The primary sector – including horticulture, viticulture, forestry and pastoral farming – contributes more than three quarters of New Zealand’s goods exports and underpins the standard of living of every New Zealander.

“However, farmers and growers are immensely frustrated by over-bearing regulation that holds back higher productivity and investment and does not protect the environment.

“National backs the primary sector and, on top of the 19 measures we have already announced to help farmers, will cut the red tape that is stopping water storage and preventing growers planting more fruit and vegetables, adding to cost of living pressures.

“New Zealand has abundant freshwater, but we capture and store less than 10 per cent of it. Current rules make it all-but impossible to build new water storage. Consents can often take years and cost millions of dollars. As a result, farmers are left with unreliable access to water, and urban areas face water restrictions in dry years.

“National will make it easier to build water infrastructure by eliminating resource consents for water storage on land. However, because water is a precious resource, consents will still be required to take water from rivers or lakes. National will announce our freshwater policy soon.

“Horticulture is a vital part of the primary sector and no consent should be required simply to grow fruit and vegetables commercially. Even rotating crops requires permission from regional councils. This endless bureaucracy is a major contributor to vegetable prices rising 56 per cent since 2020, adding to the cost-of-living crisis.

National will:

  • No longer require farmers to have a resource consent to build a water storage pond on farmland, unless wetlands or Significant Natural Areas are affected.
  • Councils will be required to approve or decline consents for other types of water storage within two years of an application.
  • Consents for water storage will be extended to 30 years. Under Labour, consents only last 10 years, not long enough to recover investment costs.
  • Make commercially-grown fruit and vegetables for human consumption a permitted activity under the Resource Management Act, meaning growers will not have to obtain a resource consent to grow food or rotate crops within a catchment.

“These changes will get rid of rid of restrictions that most New Zealanders would be surprised to know even exist.

“Regulation that genuinely protects the environment will always be necessary. But regulation that creates rules for rules’ sake, and simply adds cost pressures, will go under a National government.

“This election is an opportunity for change. This week, Treasury’s poor economic forecasts of rising debt and prolonged deficits showed the toll that Labour’s economic mismanagement has taken on New Zealand.

“New Zealanders deserve better. National has a plan to rebuild the economy to ease the cost-of living crisis so we all get ahead. We will provide tax relief because New Zealanders deserve it. Our tax plan will mean up to $250 a fortnight in the backpocket of a family with young children in an average income household, and $50 a fortnight for someone on the median income.

“Our tax plan is fully costed and is part of a wider plan that will get the economy working for all New Zealanders, and get New Zealand back on track.”

You can find National's Primary Sector Growth Plan here