Farmers should fear Greens' influence
Nothing is more guaranteed to provoke an outpouring of opinions than an election. Here's mine.
It's still three months away to a final decision, but it would take a miracle for a Labour-Greens bloc to emerge with a win. And that should please farmers.
While Labour's not threatening to be so heavy-handed, it is the Greens' influence that farmers should fear.
Green politicians' comments indicate they will want to tighten environmental restrictions on farming, in particular severely curb new dairying ventures and compel dairy farmers, at least, to pay a carbon tax.
It wouldn't surprise me to see Labour support this.
In fairness, The Greens policies are not all bad. They also want to give money to the organics movement, which has been starved of funds under National.
I support that, but such promotion of organics should be accompanied by the setting of standards for alternative fertilisers, herbicides and animal treatments that will prevent many of the wild claims now being made for some of them.
Unfortunately, I can’t see that happening.
Labour has attempted to play down fears of anti-farming policies, but admits it will keep its policy of demanding resource rentals for water users.
However, I like its idea of establishing a high-level advisory panel on rural matters.
National has been largely hands-off, which is the way farmers like it.
It is carefully feeling its way toward setting water quality standards, trying to find that balance between protecting the environment and allowing farming businesses to grow.
It hasn't done much wrong yet, agriculturally speaking in my view, though that’s probably more because it hasn’t thrown its weight around. Attempts to influence reforms for meat and wool have been rebuffed. Labour promises to be more vigorous in this but I can’t see it making better progress.
Remember, this column is where I express my opinion on the issues of the day. It's just one man’s view and shouldn't cause alarm.
* Jon Morgan is the editor of Fairfax NZ's weekly NZ Farmer publication.