30 Sep 2019

Government rejects blame for low farmer confidence

12:02 pm on 30 September 2019

It is unfair to pin low farmer confidence on the government, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor, also Biosecurity Minister, Food Safety Minister, Rural Communities Minister, Trade and Export Growth Minister of State

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Rabobank's latest quarterly survey shows net farmer confidence is sitting at the lowest level recorded since March 2016, which was during the dairy downturn.

The survey found 68 percent of farmers who held a negative outlook cited government policy as the main reason. Other concerns included turbulence in overseas markets, negative public perceptions of farming and the performance of Fonterra.

National Party agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller said farmers had faced an onslaught of uncertainty and costs since the new coalition government came to power.

"The government is now the biggest headache for farmers and they must recognise this and finally start supporting our primary sector," Mr Muller said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor did not believe farmers should be directing the brunt of the blame at government.

"I have to say [it's] a little unfair. There are wider issues across agriculture than just new government proposals, and while we're going through discussion documents and proposals I'm certainly getting that feedback but I am reminding farmers that we live in a changing world, we have to be resilient," Mr O'Connor said.

Mr O'Connor said the farming sector had plenty to feel positive about, with good commodity prices for key sectors.

"People should be looking forward with optimism, but you know once you get into a bit of negative mindset than it is very hard to get out of that,

"We're working to try and improve that with the farmers, but I think it'll take a collective effort," he said.

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