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Primary Industries

New Zealand’s primary sector is a huge part of our economy and our identity. We’re committed to working together to improve the sustainability of our products and practices, implement practical ways for the sector to gain more value, create more jobs and strengthen New Zealand’s clean, green and innovative brand.

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

Growing our primary sector workforce

To make sure our primary industries have the skilled workers they need, we’ve launched the successful Opportunities Grow Here campaign to attract more people to vital food and fibre sector jobs. We’ve made trades training in critical industries free, which is enabling 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., When COVID hit, we moved quickly to support employers and keep people in jobs, and over the past two years, we’ve put in place a range of immigration policy changes to help fill labour shortages in key industries.

Investing in innovation 

We’re backing the primary sector to future-proof its activities and grow its earnings. We’re boosting research and development in technologies to reduce agricultural emissions, including promising areas like vaccine development, methane and nitrous oxide inhibitors, and low emissions animal breeding. We’ve also increased 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.

Securing New Zealand's clean, green brand 

We’re working with industry through the He Waka Eke Noa Partnership to support farmers and growers to measure, manage and reduce on-farm agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. We’re also taking steps to incentivise practical ways for farmers to change farming practices, improve biodiversity and freshwater quality and take up the promising technology available in the market now. This includes working with the sector to establish more than 170 catchment groups so farmers and growers can share their ideas and practice innovations to improve freshwater and lower emissions.

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.

Strengthening our biosecurity system

Our primary sector revenue has continued to grow, and it’s vital that farmers’ and growers’ work is protected by a strong biosecurity system. That’s why we’re investing $110.9 million into biosecurity to protect the productivity of New Zealand’s most important export sector and guard our taonga species. We’ve also 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’ve also worked in partnership with farmers on our world-first approach to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis.

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. 

Getting communities through emergencies

When a flood, drought, or severe storms hits, our farmers and growers are among the hardest hit. We rolled out the funding needed 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.

Treating animals humanely

We’re working to ensure New Zealand upholds its international reputation for high standards of animal welfare – this isn’t just the right thing to do, it also helps Kiwi exporters stay ahead of the curve. 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.