The Minister of Agriculture has confirmed he hasn’t bothered asking his officials the costs farmers will face as a result of the high methane target the Government is imposing, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“When questioned in Primary Production Select Committee Damien O’Connor scrambled to confirm he’d seen no specific advice for costs per farm, nor has he even asked for any.
“Cabinet have blindly cooked up a methane reduction target of 24-47 per cent, despite scientific evidence suggesting this is too high and without knowing the costs per average farm and the impact it will have on rural communities.
“The Minister’s lack of concern around costs on rural communities is extremely disappointing. It’s clear he meant what he said when he told farmers last year to ‘get used to it’ in relation to increasing costs.
“The Government also wants Agriculture included in the ETS. Farmers are extremely weary of any new tax collected at processor level that won’t help change on farm behaviours.
“To make matters worse Damien O’Connor’s ‘rural proofing’ policy announced a year ago is a flop. There is no formal evidence of this policy on any Cabinet papers proving it’s a bumper sticker idea with no substance.
“Farmers want a Minister to stand up for them in Cabinet and not roll over on environmental regulations and the One Billion Trees programme, which is gobbling up farmland and hollowing our rural communities. The Minister needs to take caution before imposing more costs on the sector willy-nilly.”
Horowhenua residents have called on the Government to end the mental anguish it is causing them and get on with building the region’s new expressway, Ōtaki MP Nathan Guy says.
“The message they delivered in their hundreds at a rally in Levin today to protest the inaction was clear. They need funding and approvals confirmed now - not more uncertainty, congestion, fatalities and broken promises from the Labour Government.
“Many residents and businesses have been left in limbo since NZTA announced its preferred corridor in December for the expressway between Ōtaki and north of Levin. Nothing has happened since then.
“The Government isn’t interested in building new roads and I'm hearing NZTA won't allocate the $20 million necessary to push the consent paperwork through and get this highway built.
“Only a handful of houses have been purchased to date and the Government has said it won't purchase any more properties until RMA approvals have been granted.
“That has left locals feeling paralysed and sick from stress. Their lives have effectively been put on hold for years because the Government has turned NZTA’s priorities towards rail at the expense of roads. The pain on their faces was plain to see today.
"The existing SH1 has claimed 11 lives in the past five years and seriously injured another 43, but these horrendous statistics don’t seem to bother Transport Minister Phil Twyford.
"When the Transmission Gully motorway and Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway open in 2021, Levin will have the worst congestion in the North Island. Locals need a solution now, rather than more thumb-twiddling from the Transport Minister.”
National is proposing increasing the penalties for breaching biosecurity rules at the border to protect our farms, orchards and natural environment from pests and diseases, National’s Biosecurity spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“Our biosecurity system is under immense pressure with 5.5 million passengers entering the country each year, along with increasing imports.
“We want to toughen up on those bringing in risk items which could put our biosecurity at risk. This would mean increasing fines from the current $400 to $1000 for those found to have risk materials, and giving Ministry for Primary Industry officials the power to immediately deport those who are found to knowingly conceal risk items.
“National wants to ensure importers are held accountable for signing off Import Health Standards on goods that aren’t free of biosecurity risk items. These measures will go a long way to better protecting our border.
“For more details on our approach to biosecurity and other matters in the primary sector I encourage you to read our recently launched primary sector discussion document.”
Primary Sector Discussion Doc can be found here
The Botched Budget includes a $200 million fund to drown farmers in tough regulations and excessive bureaucracy, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“David Parker and Damien O’Connor were both supporters of nutrient and water taxes in the recently ditched Tax Working Groups report. They now have a taxpayer war chest disguised as the “Agriculture Transition and Sustainable Land Use” fund to regulate farmers and grow bureaucracy in Wellington which is a real worry.
“Research funding for Agriculture Climate Change initiatives simply continues work National was already doing but is only band aid funded for 12 months. This sends a clear signal that the Government expects farmers and industry to fund this through Agriculture entering the ETS.
“Farmers don’t trust this Government and are already really worried about the following:
- An unrealistic methane target in the Climate Change Bill.
- $130 million for the 1 billion trees programme which has the potential to hollow out rural communities.
- Government changes to the Overseas Investment Office which mean trees are gobbling up productive pastoral land.
- $360 million more in fuel taxes over the next two years.
“We are the world’s most efficient producer of food and farmers have invested $1 billion of their own money in environmental initiatives like fencing off waterways and continuing riparian planting. National knows that hammering them with more taxes, regulation and policy uncertainty is not the answer.”
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s dismissive attitude to the Tax Working Group’s (TWG) report is doing a disservice to the primary sector, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“The Minister has already signalled his intent for a Capital Gains Tax with his comments on Radio New Zealand that ‘capital gains as the ultimate goal of a farmer is flawed, and it’s something that needs to be looked at’.
“A Capital Gains Tax would cost farmers $600,000 if their farm is sold after 10 years. On top of that, environmental taxes would take $20,000 from the average sheep and beef farm, $25,000 from the average dairy farm, and $68,000 from an irrigated dairy farm.
“In addition the Government would smack farmers with additional costs because they’d be forced to get a valuation for their farm under a Capital Gains Tax that could cost upwards of $5,000 per farm.
“Farmers’ worries about this Government’s policies are reflected in Rabobank’s latest farmer confidence survey which shows the sector ‘still languishes in negative territory’, while MYOB’s Capital Gains Tax survey found rural communities are deeply opposed to the tax.
“Mr O'Connor is turning a blind eye, telling the New Zealand Herald last month he ‘hasn’t fully read’ the TWG report, and when interviewed by Rural Exchange he said that these taxes ‘probably won’t affect the vast majority of farmers’.
“It’s bizarre the Minister is shooting his mouth off without having read the report. And today he confirmed in the House that he hasn’t even bothered to seek advice on the impact of these taxes on rural communities, despite the TWG report being public for 43 days and him having access for weeks before that.
“Farmers already have to cope with unfavourable weather and swings in the prices of New Zealand’s exports of farm commodities. The Government seems oblivious to the effects these taxes would impose on our rural communities.
“There’s still time to have your say and send this Government a message by signing National’s petition. These proposed taxes will hurt rural communities and slow our economic growth.”
National’s petition is at: www.nonewtaxes.co.nz
Rural Kiwis, from farmers and contractors to retailers, engineers and many other hardworking New Zealanders would be hurt by a Capital Gains Tax and a raft of new taxes aimed at the primary sector, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“The Government’s Tax Working Group has recommended New Zealand introduce a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the family farm of 33 per cent, an animal emissions tax, water tax, fertiliser tax, and consider an environmental footprint tax and a natural capital tax.
“With all these taxes combined a typical dairy farm could be paying up to $68,000 annually in new taxes if irrigated, or $25,000 without irrigation. An average sheep and beef farm could be taxed $20,000 per year.
On top of these new taxes, the Capital Gains Tax would typically apply at a 33 per cent tax rate. If a farmer sells their farm after ten years, the Tax Working Group expects them to pay over a $600,000 tax bill for an average dairy, sheep or beef farm.
“A Capital Gains Tax will be a handbrake on young farmers progressing into more productive farms and upsizing.
“Valuers and tax advisers will be licking their lips at all the work that is being created for them. Meanwhile, farmers are going to be tied up in red tape by the army of bureaucrats enforcing these taxes.
“More taxes will hurt provincial New Zealand as farmers lock away their cheque books and freeze farm investments. This will have a negative impact on most provincial towns.
“Farmers and growers are being treated as a cash cow, and it shows how completely out of touch the current Government is. Farmers would be expected to pay tax to water their stock, feed their crops and even when they sell up for retirement.
“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced last year that when it comes to soaring costs and taxes on farmers there are more coming. He arrogantly told Rural News that farmers need to ‘get used to it’. The Government is now living up to Mr O’Connor’s word.
“National will fight the Government’s proposed tax grab every step of the way. We will repeal a Capital Gains Tax, and we will not introduce any new taxes in our first term.
“National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn and the Government should keep its sticky fingers out of their wallets.”
The Federated Farmers January Mid-Season Farm Confidence Survey shows the worst farmer confidence since 2009 when the Global Financial Crisis was biting hard, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“While there are international issues like Brexit and potential trade wars causing concern, most of the pessimism is resulting from Government policies.
“Since becoming Minister, Damien O’Connor has killed Government funding for water storage projects, signed-off a costly rebranding exercise of MPI, slashed research and development programmes and didn’t support funding calls for rural mental health support.
“Other potential headwinds adding to the unrest are proposed restrictions on hill country cropping, winter grazing restrictions, increased union access and the likely recommendation of the Tax Working Group to add a Capital Gains Tax to the family farm alongside a new suite of water and environmental taxes.
“Mr O’Connor has confirmed that when it comes to soaring costs and taxes on farmers that there are more coming. The Minister arrogantly told Rural News last year that farmers need to ‘get used to it’.
“This is on top of a skills shortage due to immigration policy, coupled with the Government sitting on its hands while letting Taratahi go into liquidation. The Government’s industrial relations reforms are set to increase costs even further, starting with a hike in the minimum wage on April 1.
“It seems the Primary sector – which is New Zealand’s biggest export earner – turns out to be the biggest loser under this Government. The Primary Sector is being punished by this Government’s policies, and farmers have every right to be in fear.
“It will take more than Shane Jones cynically dishing out cash to the regions to turn farmers confidence around.”
The Government’s refusal to rule out a red meat tax will come as a shock to the sector and shows just how little is safe from this Government’s plans to add more and more new taxes, National’s Agriculture Spokesperson Nathan Guy says.
“Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter has refused to rule out a red meat tax following yet another report yesterday recommending yet more taxes, this time from the same people pushing for a sugar tax.
“Saying it’s not under active consideration ‘at this stage’ is sneaky. The Government needs to be upfront with Kiwi families and farmers if they have secret plans to add a tax to red meat or any other New Zealand industry.
“This announcement from a Green Party Minister which shows that this Government is continuing its attack on farmers proves how far this Government will go with any new taxes and adding to the cost of living.
“The red meat sector is worth around $9 billion of exports. Over 25,000 New Zealanders are employed and will be horrified the Government is not ruling out taxing the red meat industry.
“Where will this tax and spend agenda stop?
“The Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has already said that when it comes to soaring costs and taxes on farmers that there are more coming. The Minister arrogantly told farmers that they needed to ‘get used to it!’
“Mr O’Connor has signalled that a climate tax for farmers is coming, he has slashed the Primary Growth Partnership fund and the Government is refusing to fund any new water storage projects – despite a massive heat wave hitting us now.
“Meanwhile the Tax Working Group is about to propose a Capital Gains Tax on the family farm alongside a new suite of water and environmental taxes.
“Food producers are the backbone of the New Zealand’s economy. They expect better from the Government. I challenge Winston Peters and Jacinda Ardern to confirm whether a tax will be added to our red meat as proposed by the Green Party in Government.”
National’s Food Safety spokesperson Nathan Guy is backing calls from the food and grocery sector for tougher penalties for those who intentionally contaminate our food or threaten to do so.
“My Member’s Bill seeks to achieve what Damien O’Connor appears unwilling to do – protect New Zealanders from those that would threaten our food safety, be they reckless pranksters or people intent on nothing less than economic sabotage.
“Recent events here in New Zealand and across the Tasman, such as the strawberry needle scares, have identified the need for greater sanctions to prevent these sorts of idiotic behaviours. The food and grocery sector has been ignored in its calls for tougher laws.
“Australia has already acted, passing stricter laws that seek to deter these criminals who contaminate food and water sources. New Zealand now lags behind our near neighbour, meaning offenders have less to fear if they are caught.
“Food tampering is not only economic sabotage on farmers and growers but also poses significant risks for consumers and New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of high quality and safe food.
“Parliament should send a strong message to anyone who considers food tampering. New Zealand should not be seen as a soft touch, and it is unacceptable that the Government has ignored calls from industry for stiffer penalties.
“New Zealand’s current penalties for these crimes are aligned with those for offences relating to dishonesty and conspiracy. We would argue that this is much more serious.
“The Crimes (Contamination Offences) Amendment Bill would help deter this offending by creating three new offences in the Crimes Act and will increase those penalties to align them with the more serious offences of corruption, espionage, treason and piracy.
“The Bill would:
- Criminalise the contamination of food to cause public alarm, national economic loss or harm to public health with a penalty level of 14 years imprisonment.
- Criminalise making threats to contaminate food for those purposes with a penalty level of 10 years.
- Criminalise hoax statements that cause public alarm, national economic loss or harm to public health to 10 years.
- See the maximum term of imprisonment for intentionally contaminating food increase from 10 to 14 years.
“This Bill recognises the serious physical, psychological and economic effects of such actions. New Zealanders need to know their food is safe and manufacturers should be protected from economic loss such offenders can cause.
“I call on all parties in Parliament to support what is a common sense response to threats to our food safety. New Zealand shouldn’t be held to ransom by a reckless and foolish few.
National is disappointed by the news that the Taratahi Institute of Agriculture is going into interim liquidation, National MPs Paula Bennett and Nathan Guy say.
“The Government is bribing students into tertiary education through its fees free programme and yet is now allowing one of our biggest agricultural tertiary education providers to fold,” National’s Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment spokesperson Mrs Bennett says.
“This will have a huge impact on the around 900 students and 250 staff who were due to start and facilitate courses at Taratahi this summer.
“We believe Taratahi approached Ministers for cash flow of $4 million to keep it afloat but this Government has failed to support it. Taratahi needed just a fraction of the $2.8 billion fees free bribe or the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund and yet Ministers couldn’t find the money to keep Taratahi training students while it worked through its issues.
“This Government has badly let down rural communities, students and staff. It talks up its support of the regions but has once again turned its back on them when it matters.”
“Wairarapa-based Taratahi and Southland’s Telford have a long-standing and valued place in primary sector education,” National’s Agriculture spokesperson Mr Guy says.
“This is a sad day for New Zealand agriculture. The performance of the primary sector is critical to our economy, and that depends on having well qualified, motivated and high-quality workers.
“We hope that Taratahi can be salvaged. The agricultural sector is dependent on farming graduates to serve the industry. Taratahi plays an important role in providing those graduates.
“The primary sector is growing and New Zealand needs 1,100 new workers each year. The much needed industry skills pipeline is now in jeopardy with around 900 fewer graduates.”