While farming groups welcomed aspects of Budget 2020, there was concern over the Government's future plan for the primary industries.

Federated Farmers said it found plenty of highlights, but it was wary of the long-term plan for the primary industries' contribution to New Zealand's economy recovery.

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"Farmers will be pleased with announcements of a $1.1 billion environmental jobs spend and specific mention of control of pests such as wallabies and wilding pines. Also positive is the increased support for biodiversity on private land through agencies like QEII and Landcare Trust" said Federated Farmers Vice-President and economics spokesman Andrew Hoggard.

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"But as with so many aspects of the Budget announcements, the devil will be in the detail".

The Budget included $500 million in initiatives that will ensure the primary industries are supported, said Hoggard.

"We look forward to seeing more detail on that. We appreciate it appears we've been listened to on many of the areas for potential work we've raised with government".

The Budget's investment of another $3 billion in infrastructure was also a big spend, but the decisions on where the money would go were yet to be made, said Hoggard.

Federated Farmers Vice-President and economics spokesman Andrew Hoggard. Photo / Supplied
Federated Farmers Vice-President and economics spokesman Andrew Hoggard. Photo / Supplied

"We would hope enhanced rural connectivity, money for water storage and road maintenance are prime candidates for that investment as both will help drive primary sector production and competitiveness".

Federated Farmers said the Budget's provision for re-training and support for those New Zealanders who will be among the forecast 10 per cent unemployment queue by next month was also the right step.

Feds has set up its own apprenticeship scheme to find more workers for the dairy industry, and was looking forward to seeing more government support for this and other similar schemes to get people into primary sector jobs.

"Keeping as many Kiwis in work as possible is obviously a priority. We appreciate the acknowledgement of how important the primary sector will be to economic recovery; of $1.6 billion for training and apprenticeships, $19.3 million is earmarked to place 10,000 people into primary sector jobs. That's a start" said Hoggard.

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Meanwhile DairyNZ said the Budget's focus on jobs, infrastructure and the environment had "hit the spot", but again, "the devil will be in the detail for the dairy sector".

"Dairy farmers will be particularly pleased to see a $19.3 million investment to place 10,000 people into primary sector jobs. Our sector is already facing a 1000-person skill shortage that will be greatly exacerbated by Covid-19 and an inability to recruit migrant staff" said DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle. Photo / Supplied

Mackle said a $3 billion dollar investment in infrastructure was welcome news for rural New Zealand – "but while the dollars are there, the detail isn't".

DairyNZ would be engaging with Government in coming weeks and months to ensure water storage, rural broadband and enhanced mobile coverage were priorities, said Mackle.

"We need to ensure that any investment is strategic, has a long-term vision and will pay dividends for years to come. Investing in a coordinated national water storage strategy is an example of a project that ticks all these boxes".

DairyNZ was happy to see substantial investment in partnership with local government, business and farmers.

"We believe this will ensure money reaches the right places and delivers more bang for tax-payer buck" said Mackle.

"Fencing, planting and pest eradication are all things dairy farmers have been focusing on for well over a decade and the Government funding will be a real shot in the arm to help further improve water quality, climate and biodiversity outcomes".

IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal. Photo / Supplied
IrrigationNZ chief executive Elizabeth Soal. Photo / Supplied

IrrigationNZ said it thought Budget 2020 had missed the opportunity for water storage to be "part of the solution" in a post-Covid recovery.

"IrrigationNZ understands the exceptional circumstances of Covid-19 but believes that strategic management of this essential resource remains important, and that a water strategy to guide spending would be beneficial" said chief executive Elizabeth Soal.

"The Hawkes Bay drought is an example of why it is so important that we have water storage – to prevent damage to communities and regions caused by drought, which will increase due to climate change".

IrrigationNZ said it supported the money set aside to create new jobs in regional environmental projects, including improving the health of New Zealand's waterways, enhancing biodiversity and restoring wetlands.