INTOUCH: Letter To The Editor

Dear Ellen
Although phlegmatic about being quoted in the media, Bob Edlin’s Happy New Year? piece has quoted Federated Farmers out of context. Bob, quoting from release entitled Dismal economic outlook must see NZ get farming, directly implied Federated Farmers was attacking Treasury.
Look, I respect Bob lot, but there are times when skim reading can catch you out and this is one of them. The first three paragraphs of the release were an unambiguous and clear criticism of the former Labour-led government’s economic management. I’m baffled how sentence that goes “Labour’s economic legacy is fast turning to dust in our mouths. 2009 will be brutal yet I don’t think Wellington gets just how serious it really is,” can be reinterpreted as meaning Treasury. After nine years in office the former Labour-led government had economically left us back in 1999. As advice to the National-led Government, we suggested poor quality spending programmes should be culled. One of the most obvious is something called NAIT – an animal ID scheme for farm animals. Costing up to $50 million year just to run, it replicates data held by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority and the Animal Health Board but massively increases on-farm compliance. Worse, no one from NAIT has ever explained to me how on earth they will trace hamburger mince, cheese or milk powder right back to the paddock. It’s this sort of largesse we pointed to in our release that makes us lobby for things that will grow productivity and jobs, like water storage. Why, we ask, isn’t Bob?
Yours faithfully
Philip York
Economics and commerce spokesperson, Federated Farmers of NZ

Regardless of what Labour might have done to create the grim conditions, or should have done to avert them, the press statement said: “The numbers released by Treasury today are more than ugly.” It also said the Federation is angry that cash deficits are predicted to dip into the red by over $11 billion within four years. Hence my remark – should Treasury have falsified the figures to make the feds more comfortable? – Bob Edlin

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