Estimates Debate - Primary Sector

Thursday, July 7, 2016

STUART SMITH: That previous Greens speaker underlined the wisdom of putting in commissioners at Environment Canterbury, I think. So I would like to address a couple of matters that were raised there.

There was $37 billion in exports earned from the primary sector, with a stretch target of $64 billion by 2025. It is a stretch target, and that is what we put a target place for: to make it difficult to attain. It will be difficult to attain that. It will not be simply reached by doubling production; it will be reached by increasing value—so growing value over volume in a sustainable way.

I am very proud to be a part of the National Government, which is taking environmental issues sensibly and attacking them in the right manner, so—

Todd Barclay: Pragmatic.

STUART SMITH: —it is economically sustainable as well. It is pragmatic environmentalism, absolutely. I will come back to the growth targets in a little bit, but I want to touch on TB.

I think bovine TB is a significant issue that is being tackled by the Government, and $70 million put up in this Budget to help eradicate TB in the next 4 years is a fantastic goal. To get rid of TB out of cattle and deer by 2026 is a difficult target, but one that is really worthy of trying to achieve.

We also have the goal of eradicating TB from infected wildlife by 2055, and that will be difficult to achieve, but it is also quite worthy to do.

I know from personal experience having to destroy deer that were false positives is pretty disappointing for the farmer, particularly when you find out it is woody tongue and not, in fact, TB that it has reacted to. I might add that the tests have actually improved in the last few years.

Other things that I would like to touch on—wilding conifers. There has been $16 million over 4 years put into controlling wilding conifers. That is something that most people do not take a lot of notice of. But, particularly in places like the Mackenzie Country, it is quite insidious.

It does not just change by growing a few trees that are unwanted on land that is not really economically viable to get rid of; it actually changes the whole landscape, and that affects everyone. I think $16 million will go a long way over 4 years to help deal with that problem, and I applaud that.

I want to now come to growing our exports to $64 billion. The Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) projects are going to help along the way.

I also note that the organic sector, which used to be $70 million in 2002, has grown to $240 million. Organics is an important part of growing that value. Often it achieves a higher value, and that is what we are trying to do to grow our primary production to $64 billion. I know that is only a small part, but it helps to grow the brand. I really support that.

One of the appeals I would give today is that the organic sector needs to become united and make it much easier for them to attract money from things like PGP. If they are not together it is very difficult to do that.

One of the other things that I would like to talk about is Lifestyle Wines, which is a PGP project. That is to enable the wine industry to produce low-alcohol wines in a way that does not detract from the full flavour and experience from the wine that the consumer likes to drink. It is about mouthfeel and other things—often you lose mouthfeel with lower alcohol, because it does have a fattening impact on the palate. So it is quite an important thing.

But the wine industry in the Marlborough region is growing significantly, and it is growing value, as I alluded to earlier. I have got this visual aid to demonstrate, which shows the area planted in Marlborough overlaid over a map of Wellington, going all the way up to Upper Hutt—right through Trentham, right up into Upper Hutt. That is the area in green. The area in yellow is the proposed new plantings over the next 4 years.

That is, in part, driven by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and we have got a great trade agreement there. That will help us to drive our growth. It is a great result.