Nelson Marlborough Farming - Development of the regions key to Budget 2015

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Regional development is one of my priorities as an MP and something that I feel incredibly passionate about. The regions do a lot of the heavy lifting for our economy-, specifically for our export industry, and there is an abundance of potential yet to be realised.

That is why I was delighted that this year's Budget, released on the 21st of May, demonstrated this Government's commitment to further developing regional New Zealand.
One of the most exciting announcements included in the Budget was $25 million in funding for Regional Research Institutes over three years from 2016 The Institutes will be modeled on the Nelson based Cawthron Institute, which is New Zealand's largest independent science organisation.

The Cawthron Institute is hugely successful, and specialises in food, aquaculture, marine biosecurity and coastal and freshwater ecology. It is a not-for-profit organisation with the aim of supporting advancement within the primary industries, in order to develop the economy and benefit the environment. Any surplus it runs is reinvested towards further scientific development.

The Government will work with regional stakeholders to identify where the best opportunities are to develop new institutes. This process will be about consulting with local people on how to best utilise local strengths and resources.

Each institute would focus on scientific research relevant to a particular region.

The funding should see between one and three new institutes over the next four to five years. The institutes will create jobs, support regional development and stimulate economic growth. Crucially, they will bring investment to the area, from within New Zealand and also potentially from international investors.

Another initiative in the Budget that will encourage our regions to thrive is the rebooting of the Afforestation Grant Scheme. The Government will invest $22.5 million over the next six years to encourage the planting of an expected 15,000 hectares of new forest.

Not only are more trees positive for our environment, but there are also strong economic benefits of the scheme through jobs, incomes and spending in the local economy. Farmers and landowners can use the AGS to make better use of marginal land and increase farming diversification.

I'm hoping to see many applications for this scheme from within Marlborough, with strong local uptake.

Our regions are the backbone of our economy. It is wonderful to see that this Government is committed to ensuring that regional New Zealand realises its full economic potential.

I am excited to see what comes from these initiatives, and I will be working hard to make sure that Marlborough reaps the best yield it can.