Proudfoot calls for ag-sector long-term vision

Speaking in Auckland at the recent annual international conference of The Competitiveness Institute, Proudfoot said the country lacks “a clear vision of where our most important economic sector will go in the next 20, or even 50, years”.

By contrast, he notes that, under Mayor Len Brown, the City of Auckland now has very clear long-term plan.

Proudfoot says the lack of vision for agriculture creates issues for New Zealand as whole.

He says there is “lack of understanding” and “real tension” between the rural and urban populations in New Zealand.

“This makes it difficult for New Zealand to move forward as one and deliver the real economic advantage that we could, potentially, create.”

Proudfoot adds that agriculture is critical to New Zealand’s future and the country needs to find ways to maximise the advantages it has in this sector in the future.

He says 50-year vision will “enable us to have some of those difficult conversations that, at the moment, New Zealand is shying away from”.

“New Zealand is small country and debates become extremely emotional very quickly here,” he says.

“It is real challenge to have sensible discussion around genetic modification, for example.”

Other hot topics include intensification of our farming systems and the use of foreign investment.

“If we had clear vision, these things would make much more sense to us.”

In reference to Jim Collins’ famous book Good to Great, Proudfoot said New Zealand has “very good” agricultural industry.

“We don’t yet have great one.”

KPMG recently canvassed the opinions of 84 agriculture sector business leaders. They collectively identified maintaining biosecurity as their number one priority.

Other priorities included better understanding customers’ specific requirements, handling the increased scrutiny of New Zealand’s clean-green image, and improving governance systems.

A report based on the findings, “KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2011: Realising global potential” is available online.

The report finds that agriculture industry leaders recognise the opportunities available to their sector.

“However, capitalising on these opportunities is hampered by high debt levels, lack of integration with customers, certain amount of inertia, some outdated farm practices, an unwillingness to have mature conversations around some of the more difficult issues, and policy settings that have created investment uncertainty.”

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