Meat & Livestock News

New Zealand Farmers Face Inflationary Pressures: Government Not to Blame, Says O’Connor

tired while working in a greenhouse on a tractor.

In a recent interview with Country TV, New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, discussed the challenges facing the country’s farming sector. O’Connor attributed the rising costs in the industry to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, which has significantly impacted fuel prices.

He also addressed the discontent within the farming community, emphasising that the government is not the root cause of their struggles.

Inflationary Impact of the Russo-Ukrainian War

O’Connor stated that the war in Ukraine has led to considerable inflationary pressures on New Zealand’s farming sector, particularly affecting fuel costs. “The Ukraine war has put huge pressure on fuel costs, and that has flowed right through,” he said.

O’Connor acknowledged that New Zealand is not alone in grappling with inflation, as many other countries are facing similar challenges.

Government’s Role and Farmer Frustration

The Agriculture Minister conceded that there is a level of frustration among farmers but argued that the government should not be held solely responsible for the sector’s woes. “You can just flog us, but actually, we’re not to blame for many of the pressures on-farm,” O’Connor remarked.

He warned farmers that expecting a change in government to alleviate these pressures would be unrealistic.

Structural Issues and Long-term Solutions

O’Connor was firm in his belief that there are underlying structural issues in the farming sector that require attention. “It won’t happen overnight. We’ve got to take a long-term approach to this because it’s really important that future generations in farming can firstly see the incentive to get into it and then stay in it,” he explained.

Rhetoric and Misinformation

The Minister also criticised the misleading information disseminated by various organisations and political parties, including Federated Farmers under Andrew Hoggard.

He cited the example of Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) practices, where Federated Farmers had claimed that as many as 10,000 consents would be needed, causing unnecessary panic. In reality, only 300 consents have been issued.

Counterpoints and Additional Information

During a recent Rural Issues debate at Mystery Creek, former Federated Farmers president and ACT candidate Andrew Hoggard countered O’Connor’s claims.

Hoggard suggested that the low number of consents was likely because farmers “couldn’t be bothered applying for the consents” and continued with their usual winter grazing practices.

O’Connor’s ‘300 consents’ figure also did not account for farms issued permitted activity status by regional councils, such as Environment Southland, for meeting all other requirements except the slope criteria.

By presenting a nuanced view of the challenges facing New Zealand’s farming sector, O’Connor aims to set the record straight and call for a more balanced discussion on the issues at hand.