By Guy Trafford
It has been just as well that farmers have not had too high expectations from the budget. If they had they would have been disappointed.
Some additional funding for bio-security was seriously needed and has come with +$9.3 mln extra spread over the next four years. Not a lot but something.
Treasury’s risk analysis paper on general Risks to the economy doesn’t see bio-security as a major risk as “they usually occur infrequently and cannot be predicted” and “once they occur then choices arise about how to respond”. So, given this attitude behind the scenes it’s not surprising the preventative measures are not high on the schedule.
MPI has received a further +$38 mln to help with operational expenses over the next two years, no doubt as part of the “choices that arise about how to respond”.
Probably the best news for farmers for now is the absence of further taxes and levy’s being imposed upon the rural sector for environmental externalities such as nutrient outputs and greenhouse gases.
For farmer-initiated research a further +$15 mln for the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) will be welcomed as well +$5 mln for assisting with the further development of Overseer.
Given the government's focus on the environment and climate change only +$12 mln has been aimed at the Climate Change Law Reform and the setting up of the Independent Climate Change Commission - although there is the $100 mln Green Investment Fund over four years for encouraging new green technologies and initiatives may get some traction.
DoC has also received a welcomed and way overdue lift in their funding. However, given the number and range of issues currently afflicting New Zealand’s valuable natural resources it is still just playing around the fringes.
So some may think no news is good news, as at least it means no bad news.
But if New Zealand were looking forward to a new strategy forward, then I believe most will be disappointed and an opportunity to see a refreshingly new approach has gone begging and given the outline for the next three years not much in the offing there as well.
Leading up to the budget the rhetoric was for something “transformational”. The reality, which seems to be the case for most New Zealand budgets for the last decade or so is business (or boring) as usual. No doubt some sectors will welcome this.