Re-elected president voices frustrations

Jason Grant has been returned for another term as South Canterbury Federated Farmers president. Photo: Chris Tobin
Jason Grant has been returned for another term as South Canterbury Federated Farmers president. Photo: Chris Tobin
The Government's methane emission targets will create some real pain for the country, South Canterbury Federated Farmers president Jason Grant says.

''Effectively tripling the targets advised by reputable solid scientific research shows a real lack of common sense and reeks of populist politicking,'' Mr Grant said at the federation's recent annual meeting in Timaru where he was re-elected unopposed.

The Government has proposed a 10% reduction in methane emissions by 2030 and 24% to 47% by 2050.

''In order to comply with these levels in the proposed timeframes, farming would have to dramatically cut stock numbers and production with no real way to offset these losses,'' Mr Grant said.

''I feel the Government has failed to comprehend the gravity of this, or if they do understand, have chosen to ignore it.''

He said this was something farmers had come to expect through the MMP system of government.

''I have a real frustration at the lack of recognition and support our industry receives at central government level.

''Agriculture is the country's economic powerhouse.

''Is having a high-ranking minister for agriculture not too much to ask?

''Negative sentiments about farming from our country's leadership and bureaucratic compliance like we have never seen before are taking their toll.

''Farming confidence is at a low not seen in years.''

Mr Grant said this was reflected by the decline in young people entering farming.

On the issue of eradicating Mycoplasma bovis from the country, Mr Grant said while this would be difficult, it was worthwhile.

''If we succeed, our reputation for dealing with such an incursion will give our trading partners the confidence New Zealand has the expertise to swiftly deal with any major trade-affecting disease outbreaks we may encounter.''

Mr Grant quoted from the Biosecurities Act which stated compensation paid had to place the person ''in no better or worse position than a person whose property or goods were not directly affected.''

However, Mr Grant said this was not happening.

''There are businesses that have had to wait too long for compensation money owed for some businesses whose farming systems were termed to be outside the bounds covered by the legislation.

''The financial damage incurred by these businesses has been too great and quite frankly an embarrassment.

''The human cost has also been hard.''

Mr Grant said the compensation process had improved but damage done to some farming businesses would take years to mend.

He said farmers were working actively regarding environmental matters but received little recognition for the work done.

''We must strike a balance between the environmental, social and economic needs of society.

''If we ignore these pillars, we run the risk that our rural communities will crumble.''

Despite all the problems, Mr Grant believed the farming sector had a bright future.

''There has never been a better time for young people with initiative to enter our industry and make a go of it.

''I have never seen a time where all the agriculture sectors have had a run of high returns the likes of which we are seeing now.''

-By Chris Tobin

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