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Waimakariri farmers packed out a woolshed meeting in Cust last month which I organised for National leader Simon Bridges to directly update our farmers on our new proposals for the rural sector. These policy proposals will support farmers, help New Zealand maintain our reputation as a global food provider with sustainable farming practices and crackdown on biosecurity risks that threaten our food chain and our environment.

The primary sector discussion document showcases the ways we want to support our rural sector. As local MP, it’s important to me to bring out relevant policy makers to speak directly to our residents so the Waimak voice is not only heard but is at the forefront of shaping policy development. This is something I work hard at.

Farmers in Waimakariri underpin our local economy through job creation and supporting local businesses. When they do well, the Waimak does well. Nationally, our primary sector contributes over $45 billion in export revenue and employs over 350,000 people. We produce enough food to feed about 40 million people around the globe. This is continuing to grow with our reputation as a safe producer of food and our sustainable farming practices.

At my woolshed meeting, local farmers spoke out about their concerns around Government’s conversion of pastoral land to forestry and the impact this was having on rural towns; workforce issues; and excessive red tape.

To support our farmers, we need to help young New Zealanders enter the primary sector through agricultural training –not closing down Taratahi, the leading vocational training institute as Government has done. We’re also proposing the primary sector as an avenue for skilled and experienced migrants to contribute to our rural communities and we’re championing stronger biosecurity penalties to deter people from taking stupid risks that could have devastating consequences for our farmers, crops and animals.

A priority we’re highlighting is providing greater access to health and mental-health services in rural areas. Farmers put in long hours and play a vital role in boosting our rural economies and providing our food. They deserve our support.

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