Expectation of a big night down on the farm come Budget time is long gone, but the first budget from a Labour Party finance minister in a decade "will be interesting", according to Hawke's Bay farmer and former Federated Farmers national president Bruce Wills.

"What I look for is a responsible Budget," he said from Wellington yesterday. "I get worried when there are lolly scramble budgets."

But, with plenty of information already in circulation on budget measures, he's not expecting any surprises, but he is expecting a focus on the "bottom-line parameters" of interest rates, housing costs, health and education.

"What we need are competitive exchange rates...to allow us to remain competitive on the World stage," he said.


New Zealand still relies on its reputation, he said, and while at "the wrong end of the world" geographically but at "the right end" in terms of the reputation for clean air an environment.

"We can turn it to our advantage by telling our stories," he said. "I think most New Zealanders would support any steps to support the environment, and our biodiversity."

Taihape Rd farmer Selwyn Dorward remembers Budget Night being the big night on the farm when he was young, like when there was a new subsidy on phosphate "or something like that".

"We sat there with bated breath, hoping that nothing would be taken off us," he said.

It's almost or that reason that he will following it again, saying: "I'll be listening to it, but I don't expect anything. I'd be pretty sure they're not going to be handing out anything....they're more likely to be taking it off us."

He would like a government to be "pushing" more for recognition of the value of wool — "the natural fibre" — instead of accepting the petroleum-based synthetic fibres. "That's one thing I can't understand," he said.

Farm consultant John Cannon said farmers big concerns are with the mycoplasma bovis alert and environmental issues "... and what sort of help they're going to get to get in front of it."

"Oh, and I think they'd probably want a few million here and there for those irrigation schemes," he said.

"They are very self-reliant, farming is a business where you've got to be adaptable, but I think everybody is wanting to see the kind of direction they are going in," he said.