Political Party Policies

As a General Election looms, Angus New Zealand asks political parties how do they believe they can best support the sheep and beef industry as a productive, sustainable enterprise for the NZ economy and in support of strong rural communities.

National Party Agriculture and Trade Spokesman, Hon. Todd McClay MP

Backing Rural New Zealand and Getting Back to Farming

Agriculture is one of the most productive sectors in the New Zealand economy. Its responsible for more than eighty percent of all the goods we export every year and is a huge contributor to economic growth and jobs. When the rural sector is doing well all of New Zealand is doing well, and when the rural economy is strong the country’s economy is strong. Over the last six years farmers have been grappling with more than 20 new rules or regulations that have affected their ability to operate. The sheer volume of these one-size-fits-all regulations has led to significant compliance costs on farms. The Labour government’s approach of trying to run farms from Wellington has taken away control from local communities and left them feeling misunderstood.

Recent statistics from the Federated Farmers Farm Confidence Report show that only four percent of farmers expect their own profitability to improve in the next 12 months, with more than 70 percent expecting profitability to worsen. Farmers continue to lack confidence and are unlikely to invest under a Labour Government.

Labour’s attack on rural New Zealand must end. 

The National Party’s “Getting Back to Farming” policy aims to address these issues by reducing red tape and restoring farmer confidence. Our policy recognises that practical environmentalism and economic prosperity can go hand in hand and focuses on outcomes not processes. By introducing a 2-for-1 rule, for every new agricultural regulation, two must be removed, and establishing a Rural Regulation Review Panel, National will ensure that farming regulations are fit for purpose and won’t result in more complications and stress for farmers. Councils will be required to assess the cost of rules on rural New Zealand and publish their analysis and we will introduce a no duplication rule – government can only ask farmers for information once – after that it’s up to us to work out how to share it where appropriate.  We want farmers out of the home office and back on the farm innovating and doing what they do best.

To help restore the rural economy, National will double the RSE scheme, create pathways to residence for skilled agricultural workers and bring wages in line with local workers, and allow normal rural activities on Highly Productive Land. These measures are designed to support farmers, increase productivity, and ensure the sustainability and growth of the red meat industry and our wider agricultural sector. National will work to provide farmers with the tools they need to continue supplying high-quality, low-carbon food and fibre to both domestic and international markets.

The meat industry is a key component of New Zealand’s agricultural exports, generating $10 billion in export revenue. By cutting through the red tape and reducing cost on farms, farmers can concentrate on producing top-quality products that consumers need. We will back the red meat sector to continue to be world leaders.

Our “Getting Back to Farming” policy represents a comprehensive approach to reinvigorating New Zealand’s agricultural sector. By reducing regulatory burdens and cost, promoting local decision-making, and encouraging sustainable practices National will get the country back on track. PS We’re getting rid of 3 Waters and will scrap Labour’s Ute Tax as well.

Labour Leader’s Office Senior Advisor, Matt Swann

Sheep and beef farming has long played an important role in the development of our vibrant economy. Labour wants to continue to build on where we are already strong—in our primary industries—to present a modern, sustainable economic base that provides new opportunities for ourselves and our children. Free trade agreements now cover almost three quarters of New Zealand’s exports. A key focus for us will be to expand those opportunities further. After securing trade deals with the UK and EU this year, Labour’s next priority is to lead a trade delegation to India within the first 100 days of the new term. 

New Zealand’s primary export growth strategy must be focused on us being able todemonstrate our sustainability credentials to ever more discerning consumers. Their values are driving their purchasing decisions. Labour is committed to keeping agriculture out of the ETS, that’s why we’ve worked with industry through the He Waka Eke Noa partnership to build a stand-alone system for pricing agricultural emissions. To support this, Budget 2023 allocated $15.4 million to continue the development of a system to enable farmers to calculate and report agricultural emissions. This is crucial to underpinning a farm-level pricing system. Labour has invested over $300 million over four years through Budget 2022 to get new tools and technology to reduce on-farm emissions to farmers quicker and provide extra on-the-ground support to adapt.

For the beef sector, Labour will continue to build on the progress made in our ten yearprogramme to eradicate M. bovis – a world first. We made the bold decision to work towards eradication because we knew that endemic M. bovis would affect cattle productivity and welfare and it threatened to undermine the efficiency of our production systems.  We’ll continue with monitor and surveillance to ensure we can build on the gains we’ve made and stamp the disease out. 

We’ve provided support and funding to establish 32 Rural Community hubs throughout New Zealand to help isolated and vulnerable communities. Since the first hub was set up in December 2019, the programme has contributed to expanded access to services and strengthened connections in many rural communities. These hubs provide training opportunities that improve employment prospects, including first aid, chainsaw safety, and small engine maintenance. They also run workshops and courses on small business skills development, financial literacy, project management, leadership, and digital literacy. 

We’re also delivering on our commitment to tighten up rules on farm-to-forestry conversions by giving communities greater control over the planting of forests. These changes are about getting the right tree in the right place, by seeing fewer pine forests planted on farmland and more on less productive land. Labour has heard and acted on the real concerns, especially from regions such as Tairāwhiti, Wairoa and the Tararua District, about the scale of exotic carbon forestry happening and the potential impact to the environment and on rural communities. Large-scale change in land use for exotic carbon forestry, if left unchecked and without any management oversight or requirements, has the potential for unintended impacts on the environment, rural communities, and regional economies. Everyone accepts we need to plant trees, our changes will empower local communities to ensure that the right type and scale of forests are planted in the right place.

Greens Spokesperson for Agriculture and Rural Communities, Teanau Tuiono

We can have a thriving, sustainable farming sector that tackles the climate crisis, prioritises food production, helps rural communities flourish, cleans up our rivers, and makes sure we all have fresh and healthy food to eat.

The Green Party will take action to improve farm resilience against extreme weather events, and ensure farmers can make a decent living off the land, while keeping our environment healthy. Our plan for the farming sector recognises that climate change is one of the biggest threats to the sector and to rural communities, because severe weather events and a changing climate make farming that much more difficult.

To support the sector through a changing climate and an economy, we plan to develop dual cap-and-trade schemes for both methane and nitrous oxide, with a fair allocation method that recognises beef and sheep farms as being significantly less emissions intensive per hectare than their dairy counterparts. 

All revenue generated would go back into the farming sector.

We’ll also increase support for farmers to transition to more sustainable forms of agricultural production through finance mechanisms such as low-interest loans and grants. We’ll work with the sector to develop a National Food Strategy to ensure food production is resilient to a changing climate, and work with Māori to ensure their food sovereignty aspirations are included.

For wool growers, we will prioritise the purchasing of wool carpets over synthetic carpets by Government departments. Wool carpet offers numerous environmental advantages that make it a more sustainable choice, and our choices must reflect our values: the decision between synthetic and wool carpeting is not just about cost or performance; it is a statement about a commitment to a sustainable future.

ACT Party Policy Team

New Zealand sheep and beef farmers are amongst the most efficient producers of animal protein in the world. However, Labour and the Greens believe that they know best, and their bureaucracy and red tape is crushing the rural sector. ACT believes that we should let farmers get on with farming.

The Resource Management Act is fundamentally broken. It costs farmers thousands of dollars in consultant fees and wasted time. It distinctly lacks a focus on science-based environmental outcomes, focusing instead on Treaty of Waitangi principles. The freshwater regulations being imposed by Wellington are equally impractical and expensive. Significant Natural Areas (SNA’s) are attacking farmers property rights and their ability to produce. Agricultural emissions pricing will drive production to less efficient competitors offshore. 

ACT’s alternative policies place property rights and practical reform at the centre. If elected, ACT will replace the Natural and Built Environments Bill and enact new legislation allowing local bodies, alongside industry, to tailor their water standards, storage, and use across varied catchments. This will ensure environmentally sustainable and profitable production for decades to come. Farmers will also be able to meet their environmental outcomes through Farm Plans to avoid costly resource consenting processes. ACT will establish a biodiversity fund available through local government and trusts such as QEII Trust to work with farmers to allow them to best manage SNA’s.

ACT was the only party to oppose the Zero Carbon Act and is the only party actively ruling out He Waka Eke Noa. ACT believes that penalising New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers, who are among the most emissions efficient producers of animal protein in the world, will only increase emissions from less efficient overseas competitors. ACT’s alternative is to adopt a split-gas approach that recognises the fundamentally different warming effects of methane and carbon dioxide emissions.

ACT will tie any price on emissions to that of our five major trading partners. This will create a level playing field for growers and producers competing overseas. ACT will also ensure that all areas of on-farm sequestration are accounted for in any on-farm emissions calculations.

ACT will also repeal Labour’s ban on Live Animal Exports and reinstate the $500 million a year industry operating according to a new welfare ‘gold standard.’

A vote for ACT at this election will ensure that the sheep and beef sector has a profitable and secure future in New Zealand.

New Zealand First Agriculture Spokesperson, Mark Patterson

As the election campaign reaches its peak and the major parties focus on the big urban populations to harvest votes, I can assure you that at least one political party, New Zealand First, has not forgotten where this country’s economic fortunes are tethered. 

Despite the plethora of naysayers the cold hard reality is the primary sector, especially pastoral agriculture, is our one sector of any scale that New Zealand holds a internationally competitive advantage. The focus of New Zealand First Ag policy is unequivocally to play to our strengths and grow the sector. 

The sheep and beef sector is particularly dear to my own heart as a sheep and beef farmer of 36 years, I have unwavering belief in its potential. What we won’t be doing is shrinking the sheep and beef sector by a quarter by putting a price on agricultural emissions. The He Waka eke Noa experiment failed and sheep and beef farming was going to be the proverbial sacrificial lamb at the altar of climate policy, taking with it the viability of many rural communities.

What we will do is incentivize innovation with the tools we do have, like assisting with the roll out of low methane genetics, already commercially available in sheep and readily being identified in our cattle genomics. As seedstock breeders you will have a critical role to play here, its something that you are world class at and we will back you to the hilt.

There will be restrictions on exotic plantation forestry with limits to the amount of forestry able to be entered into the ETS on good food production land. We would provide concessionary tax rates for exporters to help grow our export opportunities and support for brand NZ initiatives to build on our provenance story. We could look no further for an exemplar than the incredible job the Angus breed has done positioning its products at the premium end of the market. We intend to deliver a Rural Infrastructure Fund to enable the construction of critical rural infrastructure like flood banks, water storage and bridges.

Planning laws will be overhauled to be more permissive of light ground works and be focused on catchment by catchment solutions and weed and pest control prioritized for govt support. New Zealand First has very much focused on a ‘back to basics’ approach to ag that will help grow the sector, support where its needed and then get out of your way to let you get on and do what you do best, produce world class meat and fibre