The announcement of a Primary Sector Council to provide advice to the Government on issues confronting the primary industry will amount to nothing more than lip-service to one of the most important sectors in our economy, National’s spokesperson for Agriculture Nathan Guy says.

“The Minister for Agriculture has convened a group of well-intentioned individuals to map out the future direction of primary industries in New Zealand but it seems that no matter what they ultimately recommend, the Coalition Government will be held to ransom by the demands of the Greens.

“Farmers and growers already fear this Government hasn’t got their backs and are getting ready for more red tape and more rules and regulations that will increase costs and put a handbrake on our competitiveness in world markets.

“At the end of the day this group is not going to have any power to influence change within the Coalition and, therefore, on the front line.

“The Council doesn’t include a heavy hitter from the dairy industry, which is a real concern, given the Government is currently conducting a year-long, wide-ranging review of this sector.

“Dairy farmers and industry leaders will see this as another sign they are going to get dealt to by this Government.

“A cynic would question why the Minister hasn’t released any terms of reference, riding instructions or how much the Council will cost – the public is being asked to pay for a committee that nobody knows what it is trying to achieve.

“For the Minister to have to convene such a group simply proves he hasn’t done any policy planning during the nine years he sat in Opposition and now needs a committee to dream ideas up for him.

“With any luck their recommendations will be better than his – in the short six months he’s held this portfolio he has killed Government funding for water storage projects, signed-off a costly rebranding exercise of MPI, robbed $17 million from research and developments programmes, cut funding to rural mental health support and already appears to be rolling over to the Greens and hauling agriculture into the ETS,” Mr Guy says.

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