New Zealand's rural economy is in great shape right now which is, in turn, good for our rural and provincial towns, which thrive on the back of a healthy agricultural sector.

The price outlook for our major agricultural industries is positive despite a challenging global backdrop.

The operating environment looks good for the key livestock groups with lamb prices very high and beef pretty good too. For dairy, current market indicators suggest a high range for the milk price. The main horticulture sectors had to contend with challenging growing and harvesting conditions this year, but good prices are still expected, supporting overall revenue.

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The pip fruit sector has experienced tremendous growth since 2012, especially the apple industry; while returns from venison are also at an all time high.

Agribusinesses across the board are also starting to appreciate the benefits of moving up the "value-add ladder" which is increasing returns for some of our primary producers.

The forestry sector is currently experiencing a period of strong returns - and the good news is many of the drivers look like they could extend for a number of years.

The overall plantation planting area has decreased by about 5 per cent over the last 10 years, leading to concerns about the long-term supply of wood beyond 2030 and restricting investment further along the supply chain.

However, recent returns should encourage replanting. In addition to being competitive with dry-stock farming, forestry provides a solid diversification strategy with the added benefit of helping farmers to meet new environmental regulations.

China is now New Zealand's largest export market and since 2008 has continued to increase the range of New Zealand products they import. Traditional markets such as Australia, US, UK, Japan and South Korea are still prominent, but they're losing market share to other destinations.

Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand are increasing the range and value of the products they buy from us - which has pushed them up the rankings and into the top 10 destinations.

For the past 150 years plus New Zealand has been a world leader in efficiently producing milk, meat and fibre products from pastoral agriculture.

New Zealand farmers and the scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs, both among them and supporting them, have brought food and fibre products to the world.

The global food value chain that we have created is a significant part of our nation's economy when you consider the network of businesses and talent involved in getting our goods to market - from transport, finance, science and technology, research and development, packaging, legal services, design and marketing - and so the list goes on. Agriculture is, and always has been, New Zealand's knowledge economy.

A successful primary sector was a key part of the previous National-led Government's ability to create more real jobs, raise incomes and build a more productive and competitive economy.

The prosperity New Zealanders have enjoyed over recent years has been underwritten by a productive and profitable agriculture sector.

We must be very careful to ensure recent gains are not eroded by unnecessary taxes and compliance costs; or changes to current and potential free trade agreements. All New Zealanders depend on it.