Horticulture New Zealand says it wants the Government to hurry up with protection for highly productive land.
While it is great that the Government is trying to improve housing supply by making land more available through reform of the Resource Management Act - it should not be at the expense of feeding Kiwis, HortNZ chief executive Mike Chapman says.
"The New Zealanders who will live in those houses will also want fresh vegetables and fruit to eat at appropriate prices," Chapman said in a statement.
Reports that "Urban sprawl looks set to eat up to 31,270ha of Auckland's most productive land over the next 35 years" made "distressing and dispiriting reading," Chapman said.
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Feeding people fresh, healthy, locally-grown vegetables and fruit at appropriate prices needed to be part of New Zealand's overall plan to house people and respond to climate change, Chapman said.
"If feeding New Zealanders and offering them food security is not part of the country's plan, New Zealand's health statistics will get worse, and vegetables and fruit will become unaffordable."
Deloitte estimated New Zealand consumers could face price increases as high as 58 per cent by 2043 if vegetable production did not increase, Chapman said.
Chapman was concerned the draft National Policy Statement on Highly Productive Land, (launched in Pukekohe in August 2019), would get sidelined by "this Government's busy agenda".
"As a country, we think we've got endless, affordable food but as Covid and recent weather events have shown, we cannot take this situation for granted."
'Yes, we've got a lot of factors in our favour but, if we keep on letting highly productive land be swallowed up for houses, New Zealanders' health and the country's economy will be the poorer."
"Let's ensure we grow vegetables and fruit as well as houses near our main centres, particularly as we have an abundance of less productive land that could be used for housing."