This week Mystery Creek plays host to Fieldays, the largest agricultural showcase in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a great opportunity to look at the contribution of New Zealand’s rural sector, and what the Government is doing to help our primary industries grow. I will be there on Wednesday 15 June, and look forward to meeting up with the farmers and the industry sector that supports the farming community.
In the last three years as a farmer, the local MP of one of the largest rural electorates, Chair of the Primary Production Select Committee and Chair of the National Agricultural Caucus Committee, I have met with a large number of people involved in farming, industry and supporting sectors. It has been refreshing to see that without exception all of the groups are working hard to move forward and have a positive outlook for the future of the agricultural sector.
National knows that farming is the backbone of our economy. We rely on our rural sector to help deliver greater prosperity and opportunity for all New Zealanders.
That’s why we’re investing in primary industry and working hard for rural New Zealand. We’re improving freshwater management, supporting research and innovation, and breaking down barriers to growth.
Our Fresh Water Package, announced as part of Budget 2011, is about making the most of our economic opportunities to provide more jobs and higher incomes, while fulfilling our environmental responsibilities.
We’re investing $35 million for the Irrigation Acceleration Fund to help get irrigation projects underway. The Government is also proposing future investment of up to $400 million of equity in regional irrigation projects.
NZIER research suggests the funds could support 340,000 hectares of new irrigation, which could boost exports by $1.4 billion a year by 2018, rising to $4 billion a year by 2026.
Improving the quality of our freshwater is important to all New Zealanders. That’s why we’re committing $264 million to help clean up lakes, rivers, and aquifers.
National is also helping our primary industries work smarter. The Primary Growth Partnership is a government-industry initiative to boost growth through science and innovation. Projects are underway across a range of our key sectors.
In less than two years, the partnership has pledged $477 million to primary sector innovation. This is the largest-ever funding injection in this area, and shows our commitment to boosting productivity.
These initiatives are being supported by moves to break down barriers to growth, such as improving the tax system, cutting red tape, and building better infrastructure.
We’ve cut the company tax to 28% and implemented across-the-board personal tax cuts.
We’re making changes to the Resource Management Act to make it easier to do business.
And we’ve committed to investing around $4.5 billion over 10 years for rural infrastructure to improve connections and services for our rural communities.
National and rural New Zealand share a proud history. We will continue to support and invest in our rural sector, to grow our economy, create jobs, and deliver a brighter future for all New Zealanders.