|Speech by John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, at a Federated Farmers National Conference|
|Wednesday, July 15, 2009|
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Speech by John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, at a Federated Farmers National Conference, July 2, 2009.
Thank you very much for inviting me to your One Event National Conference.
I’d like to start by acknowledging your President Don Nicolson, the Board of Federated Farmers, and those of you who have travelled to be here from farms and rural communities all over our beautiful country. It’s a great pleasure to be speaking to your annual conference once again, and it’s an honour to be speaking as your Prime Minister.
If I can look back for just a moment, I’d like to repeat a few words I said when I addressed your annual conference two years ago. National and Federated Farmers share many of the same values – a firm belief in free enterprise and individual responsibility, a deep respect for property rights, a realisation that governments don’t have the answer to every problem, and a conviction that hard work, initiative, ambition, and success should be encouraged and celebrated, not taxed and regulated out of existence.
Those are very much the values we are bringing to this Government. And – despite the global recession and the difficult economic times we face – they are very much the values that will drive us in the years ahead.
I know you had a busy session yesterday and that Agriculture Minister David Carter spoke about many of the issues you are concerned about and that the Government is working hard on. I don’t want to go over too much of the same ground, but I do want to touch on some of the challenges and opportunities that I see farming facing in the years ahead, and talk further about some of the larger initiatives we have announced in recent months.
As you know, the National-led government views agriculture as a key driver of New Zealand’s economic engine. We value the contribution that farmers make to our economy, our lifestyle – and the Crown accounts. When things are going well on our farms, this flows through into the small towns, the provincial cities, and into our big cities. Conversely, when the primary sector sneezes, the New Zealand economy catches a cold.
It’s fair to say that – just like all developed countries – New Zealand is facing some real challenges at the moment. But despite these difficult economic times, I am very optimistic about the future of farming and the future of our economy. Because even though many Kiwis – and many farmers – are struggling, we need to look beyond this recession and focus on the longer term opportunities we face.
The high-quality products you grow and produce are one of the keys to our recovery and our future prosperity. During this recession, demand for food has declined far less than demand for manufactured goods. And despite this recession, the middle classes in China and India are continuing to grow. As they grow, their appetite for high-quality food will also grow. New Zealand is well-placed to feed that appetite.