3 Jul 2009

NZ challenged to stick to what it does well - farming

10:11 pm on 3 July 2009

New Zealand has been urged to stop trying to become the Switzerland of the South Pacific by seeking success in a range of industries.

Federated Farmers president Don Nicolson says the country should stick to what it does well - farming.

He told the organisation's the annual conference that New Zealand is wasting money trying to develop industries which would never be competitive.

Mr Nicolson said occasional successes like Weta and Rakon seem to drive economic policy, but can never lift New Zealand up the OECD.

The Tiwai Point smelter, near Bluff, uses 13% of the country's electricity but produces only 3% of all exports, which, he says, is far less efficient than farming.

Mr Nicholson said agriculture is the engine room of the economy, with dairy farmers accounting for 25% of New Zealand exports.