Todd Muller says the current Government does not see agribusiness as part of the future of New Zealand's economy.
National's primary industries spokesman told The Country's Jamie Mackay that this philosphy "runs deep" within the Labour Party, saying Helen Clark once described agribusiness as "a sunset industry" when she was Prime Minister.
"They have a philosophical view the primary industries, somehow, are not part of New Zealand's future and I totally reject that view. I always have. I think food and fibre are going to be critical for New Zealand in the future".
Muller recently expressed these views in an opinion piece where he wrote it was "time to call out the deliberate narrative, being fuelled by this Government that our agriculture sector, and the farming families that underpin it, are climate and environmental villains".
Some argue that New Zealand should diversify its export industry with technology, which Muller has no problem with, but he said agriculture has always been what Kiwis do best.
"What people forget, and this Government particularly forgets, is over 50 per cent of our exports are food, and the reasons they are so high is we're blessed with a tremendous amount of water, a great climate, and an extraordinary generation after generation of innovation and hard work by farming families around the country."
Muller said he was frustrated with the Government's approach to agriculture, which he saw as trying to constrain the industry, rather than recognising that farmers "do a bloody good job".
Although Muller admitted agriculture needs to do better in some areas, constant improvement was "the tradition of New Zealand farming", and he wanted the Government to work with farmers rather than against them.
Listen to the full interview below:
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"The tone is important ... because it comes from the top, and this Government has a view that farming is yesterday's industry and the National Party totally rejects that view."
While Muller also rejected Green MP Julie Anne Genter's idea of removing meat and milk from hospital diets, he also warned that this kind of policy was not "a one-off".
"I think it's a fundamental philosophical view that animal protein uses too much natural resources and that the planet can't sustain that as part of the food diet of 10 billion people. Again, I totally reject the philosophy - we're the best in the world at doing this.
"Ten billion people wanting animal protein [is] an opportunity for us to be able to step forward and take. These guys just constantly look for reasons to stop it.
"Where are we going in this country when this is the sort of narrative that is being promoted from the top? There's no balance in it and there's no celebration of what we're good at, and what we're continually good at for the next 20, 30 years.
"They're coming after us, and we've got to fight back hard".
Also in today's interview: Muller talked about how New Zealand agriculture compares to other countries and gives his opinion on Fonterra's latest situation.
- By Jamie Mackay and Jane Ferguson