20 Oct 2017

Fed Farmers: migration policies a concern

1:11 pm on 20 October 2017

Farmers are nervous about potential restrictions on immigration and foreign investment by the new government and want to know what deals have been struck.

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Photo: 123rf.com

During the election campaign farmers protested against several Labour Party policies - including a proposal to introduce a charge for irrigated and commercially bottled water, and to include agricultural in the Emissions Trading Scheme. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said he wouldn't support new water taxes on farmers or the inclusion of agriculture in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said feedback on the new government from the farming sector had been varied, and many people wanted to be positive and understand what it means for them.

"I think there is going to be a little bit of nervousness among some [farmers] but we want to work constructively with the new government.

"There is a lot riding on this for rural New Zealand."

All three parties have policies on curbing immigration and limiting foreign ownership of New Zealand assets.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman and immigration spokesman Chris Lewis was concerned about the effects of cutbacks on getting workers into some of the regions.

"Agriculture, tourism, hotels, cafes - they all struggle to employ people," he told Morning Report. "It's not just an agricultural problem."

Ms Milne also said migration levels were a concern.

"We know we need people on farm that work for us."

She said Labour had talked about many taxes, and farmers were feeling trepidation about what deals will be struck between Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party.

"Some of the other taxes that were talked about, probably now that Winston is there, might be off the table - or may not be because we don't know yet what the detail is."