Mark Patterson: Primary Industries make impressive gains

Opinion 14/03/2019
Kiwifruit. Photo: iStock.

By Mark Patterson, New Zealand First Spokesperson for Primary Industry.

OPINION: There is an old maxim in financial markets “to not listen to what people are saying about the markets but listen to what the markets are saying about themselves”.

The same could be said for our primary industries at the moment.

To listen to reports from the Opposition preaching their tired “farming under attack” rhetoric would be to miss the real story.

The facts are that the primary sector is in great health. The just-released Situation and Outlook report predicts primary exports for the June 2019 year at $45.6 billion, up $3 billion or 7 percent on last year’s record.

The most pleasing aspect of the statistics is that this increase is broad-based.

Kiwifruit, forestry, dairy are all showing strong gains, with bank forecasts for next year’s milk solids payout now at $7kg.

Even long-suffering sheep farmers are seeing another year of record pricing with a 5 percent gain for lamb over and above last year’s record returns.

Delving below the headlines the gains are even more impressive as we now see increased sophistication in our primary industry exports.

Dietary supplements and vitamin pills are forecast to return $780 million for the year, Zespri has announced SunGold Kiwifruit volumes are set to overtake green Kiwifruit varieties next season, Alliance Group and Scales Corporation have just announced a major joint venture into high-end pet food manufacturing to add value to previously low value offals and offcuts, and deer and sheep milk industries are emerging and gaining interest.

The list goes on.

The fact remains that far too much of our product still goes out in commodity form, but the story is one of accelerated value add.

Again statistics back this up, with business investing an extra $548m in research and development (R&D) over the past two years - and this is before the Coalition Government’s R&D tax credits kick in next month.

We are also seeing the early signs of tailwinds for exporters from the CPTTP, with EU and UK free trade deals also in the offing.

While there is no doubt we do face challenges, we as a government have made no bones about the need to build a long-term sustainable model as the basis for a more prosperous future.

Farmers can be reassured that the presence of New Zealand First at the table is a guarantee that the voice of regional New Zealand is firmly represented and that sensible outcomes will be reached.

Mark Patterson is New Zealand First Spokesperson for Primary Industry.