The Federated Farmers lobby caught the
attention of several political parties by releasing its own
political ‘wish list’ in Wellington, only to have the politicians
turn around and use the manifesto to bash their opponents.

Federation president Don Nicolson launched the policy paper
canvassing about 30 topics, such as water, education, climate
change, animal welfare, economics, genetic modification and

Nicolson called for the next government to control its
expenditure, make sure water storage is on the list of
infrastructure projects to be supported, and to exempt farm animals
from the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The lobby acknowledged the recognition it said Progressive Party
leader and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton had given rural New
Zealand, and Anderton congratulated the lobby on its contribution
to the debate about the economy’s future direction.

But Anderton also said that New Zealand could not afford to
coast any longer on its 30-year legacy of research underpinning
primary industries.

He complained that efforts to fund innovation, research and
development in food production through the $700 million New Zealand
Fast Forward fund were under threat from the National Party, which
has said it wants to axe the fund and use the money for a wider
range of research.

“Relying on commodity exports, and allowing other countries to
overtake us is not the way forward for New Zealand’s primary
industries,” said Anderton.

The National Party’s agriculture spokesman, David Carter,
welcomed the federation’s manifesto, which he said largely reflected
those in National’s 2008 policies.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the New Zealand economy,” he
said. “In areas such as Resource Management Act (RMA) reform,
tenure review, employment relations, and slashing red tape our
approaches are highly complementary.”

Carter said the manifesto raised a number of interesting ideas
in education and rural/urban relations which a National government
could look at closely.

But he also took the opportunity to attack Anderton and the
Labour Government, which he said had failed over nine years to
deliver the policies the primary production sector needed.

“Labour’s contempt for agriculture is clearly indicated by the
fact that just days out from a general election they still haven’t
released an agriculture policy,” he said.
The Green Party used the occasion to attack both the federation
and the National Party, which it claimed both wanted to “weaken”
the RMA.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the RMA was already so
ineffective the South Taranaki District Council was able to
rubber-stamp the secret clearance of 100-year-old native bush for
dairying, despite the opposition of council officers.

“The Feds and National are calling for the RMA to be watered
down but it is already so weak it allowed this dairy farmer to clear
10 hectares of high value forest and wetland,” Norman said.

The region had only 1 percent of its native vegetation left, he
said: “It seems that clearing 99 percent of the native bush is not
enough for the Federated Farmers and National: they want to finish
the job.”

He alleged that the farmers involved were given non-notified
consent to clear the bush after starting to clear it without
permission, and called for local council processes to be made