In New Zealand - you can't talk about farming without talking about water storage says Todd Muller.
"I think we've got to have a fundamental conversation around water storage because it underpins the New Zealand productive economy" National's Agriculture spokesman told The Country's Rowena Duncum.
While Muller had praise for Provincial Growth Fund investment in Northland water storage he also thought it was a "bit too little" and lacking in "coherent strategy".
"We're a tradeable economy, 70 per cent of our exports are food and fibre. Water is a critical strategic asset for this country and in my opinion we don't treat it with the strategic focus it deserves."
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"The debate thus far in this country and I accept probably across successive governments, with respect to water has been too immature."
Water storage should be considered before imposing environmental limits on farmers, who need it for land-use flexibility and to be able to respond to "regulatory challenges over time" said Muller.
Muller said his party understood the importance of farming to New Zealand and would endeavour to ensure it remained at the centre of the economy "for the next 20, 30, 40 years".
"We need to think really precisely and deeply around what policies are required to enable farming in New Zealand to be successful and it is not Wellington telling farmers what not to do and how to farm."
Also in today's interview: Muller had strong words for Winston Peters and praise for Simon Bridges' decision to rule out any deal with NZ First.