Primary Industries

New Zealand’s primary sector is a huge part of our economy and our identity. It’s playing a key role in our COVID recovery and we’re committed to helping it lead the way to a more sustainable economy that works for all Kiwis.

Here are just some of the ways we’re supporting our primary industries:

Protecting jobs

When COVID-19 hit, we took action fast to support employers and keep people in jobs. Our wage subsidies have supported more than 42,000 employees in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries 1.

Growing our primary sector workforce

To make sure our primary industries have the skilled workers they need, we’ve made trades training in critical industries free. This will enable people across New Zealand to upskill for a career in agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, fisheries or forestry, while ensuring our primary industries can get the workers they need to get the job done. We’ve also put in place a range of immigration policy changes to help fill labour shortages in key industries.

Protecting farmers from costly pests

We’ve ramped up pest control programmes around the country to get rid of costly pests like wilding pines and wallabies. This will not only help keep costs down for farmers, but will also create jobs in our regions and support New Zealand’s economic recovery. We’re also continuing to work with farmers so we can become the first country in the world to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.

Getting communities through emergencies

When a flood, drought, or severe storms hits, our farmers and growers are among the hardest hit. We rolled out more than $19 million last year alone to support communities affected by severe weather events, investing in practical support like animal feed coordination services, as well as mental health and wellbeing support through rural networks, so our farmers and growers can weather whatever storms come their way.

Boosting export earnings

We’re working with our farmers and growers to generate an extra $44 billion in export earnings over the next decade, while protecting the environment and creating jobs. Through the Fit for a Better World roadmap, we’re investing in projects that will not only boost our economy, but will do so in a sustainable way that means our natural resources will be there for future generations.

Investing in innovation

We’re working with the primary sector to future-proof its activities and grow its earnings. We’ve boosted funding for the horticulture sector to seize new opportunities for growth and stay ahead of international competitors, and we’re supporting a new programme to lead New Zealand’s plant protein sector development. We’re also supporting the transition to a clean, green agriculture sector with integrated farm planning, and working with farmers on a world-leading agreement to measure, price, and reduce agricultural emissions.

Supporting farmers in financial trouble

We know farming is a tough business vulnerable to market shocks, and we’re working to cushion the blow of any setback. We’ve introduced a farm debt mediation scheme, to help farmers in financial distress deal with their lenders. Now creditors are required to first offer mediation to farmers who default on their payments before taking enforcement action.

Treating animals humanely

We’re working to ensure New Zealand upholds its international reputation for high standards of animal welfare. We’ve introduced new regulations to strengthen our animal welfare system and we’re phasing out the export of livestock by sea.

Labour will support farmers and growers to get greater returns for their hard work by committing an initial $50 million to support integrated farm planning. Read more here.

Labour’s plan

Labour is already rolling out our plan to back our primary sector to generate an additional $44 billion in export earnings, create and maintain jobs, and improve environmental standards to support New Zealand’s brand for a clean, healthy and productive future. That’s why we are:

  • Creating 11,000 Jobs for Nature in regional New Zealand, including boosting weed and pest control programmes, which will protect farmers against costly pests like wilding pines and wallabies, and clean up our waterways
  • Making apprenticeships and trades training in targeted areas free, giving primary sector employers a new stream of new workers to upskill and employ
  • Investing significantly to help rural communities and fishing communities recover from COVID-19, including funding to increase access to support, financial and continuity planning advice and wellbeing services
  • Backing the horticulture sector to seize new opportunities for growth and stay ahead of international competitors, including funding to enable the introduction of imported plant material for the sector to develop new high-value crops and cultivars
  • Supporting farmer-led solutions through our Productive and Sustainable Land Use package, with a focus on promoting farm land-use practices that deliver more value and improve environmental outcomes.

Of all employee jobs (excluding sole traders) in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry: 34% (42,000 jobs) were supported by the Original Wage Subsidy; 9% of them were supported by the Wage Subsidy Extension (10,000); 2% of them were supported by the Resurgence Wage subsidy (3,000 jobs); 1% of them (1,000 jobs) were supported by the March 2021 Wage Subsidy.