The Country Does Need AgricultureFriday, Dec 1, 2000
On balance farmers tend to not expect much from a Labour Government. But once again Labour has produced
a Minister of Trade and Agriculture that is willing to stand on the World stage and present the
case for better trading condition for efficient NZ farmers.
Jim Sutton’s speech to the Diplomats Club presented a concise summary of agriculture’s role
in the NZ culture and economy. By confirming that it is only by trade that New Zealand can take
its place in the world, Mr Sutton states the obvious that was so neglected by the Lange period reformers.
A Minister trumpeting the importance of agriculture in the face of the smart money fools who, since
Lange, have only seen agriculture as a sunset industry gives hope that this aberration has past.
Hammering home the importance of agricultural trade liberalisation for New Zealand and for the developing
countries of the world seems to now be falling on deaf ears at the WTO. The major developed
countries have reverted to their tariff and subsidy regimes with vengeance since the Uruguay Round.
Why can’t those rich disruptive nations see the havoc their trade policies have wrought in the
developing countries. Can they not recognize that their own farmers would very successfully adjust
to more efficient lower cost production systems if they would only let them? Subsidies are addictive
and the recipient cannot see past their next fix.
The Ministers position on agriculture and trade is gratifying. Is he a lone voice in a coalition that
has until now seen trade and production as the devils doing. I hope not.