Farmer MP returns fire at the critics

SUE O'DOWD
Last updated 13:40 07/08/2014

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Retiring Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern
Fairfax NZ
PROUD FARMER: Retiring Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern.

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Retiring Taranaki-King Country MP Shane Ardern is proud he is a farmer.

In his valedictory in Parliament last week, Ardern said he took up his seat in Parliament as a farmer and was proud to have represented a rural farming electorate.

Worried about the lack of representation of farmers in politics, he said any who were not happy with the direction of the Government should stand and be a representative.

"If you do not, if you stand back, then you are as guilty as those who are doing what you do not like. Farmers in the past have had the reputation of serving their communities, and you will fail if you use the excuse that farming has become more complex and you are too busy."

He said the deregulation of the dairy industry and the debate on a new structure was a contentious issue in 1998 when he arrived in Parliament. The formation of Fonterra created an opportunity for New Zealand to become exporters on an international scale and he regretted not being able to see the same structural change in the meat and wool industry.

He said MPs should stop criticising primary industries.

Rather, they should celebrate the fact New Zealand was a world leader in agriculture.

Those who were concerned with the environment should work more with farmers.

"I beg you to spend time on farms speaking with farmers and observing what they do.

"Look at the money that Fonterra spends on research and investment in environmental issues, despite Fonterra remaining, by international standards, a small farmer co-operative."

In the past five years dairy farmers had completed 23,000 kilometres of riparian margin planting and fencing of waterways.

"That is further than New Zealand to London. It is a long fence," he said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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