Farmers who believed Labour when it said it wanted to double agricultural exports may have experienced a sense of disillusion as they absorbed the messages of Budget 2021. While the government is allocating $1.3bn to modernise rail infrastructure and build locos and wagons in Dunedin, it could find only $62m for agriculture.
Someone has calculated that the country’s 40,000 farm businesses, if they shared the $62m, would each receive $1550 or $29 a week (less than the ongoing minimum benefit increase).
This comparatively meagre sum is to be applied as follows:
- $37m towards a national integrated farm planning system for farmers and growers.
- $24m towards agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research and development.
- $900,000 to collect vital statistics on agricultural production, such as greenhouse gas emissions.
Critics may conclude the small outlay for agriculture reflects Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s influence in Cabinet. Others may see it as evidence of the traditional antipathy of Labour MPs towards farmers. Continue reading “Budget pumps $1.3bn into railways but almost forgets farmers while Fonterra delivers the economy-boosting goods”