Farmers are facing a perfect storm with the Mycoplasma bovisoutbreak, a suggestion cow numbers be limited and the possible introduction of an emissions tax, leader of the opposition Simon Bridges says.
Mr Bridges spoke to about 150 people at a meeting in Gore last week, one of 85 meetings he is holding on a tour of New Zealand.
“We are the farmers’ party,” Mr Bridges said.
The audience in Gore was keen to hear National’s views on the M. bovis outbreak and possible responses.
There were calls for more transparency relating to the outbreak.
Mr Bridges said he had asked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to update him regularly on the subject.
Mr Bridges acknowledged the value of farming to the overall economy.
Rural-based productivity was a vital part of the economy, he said.
Farmers were facing more compliance regulations than ever, but he believed people living in rural areas were already making progress on environmental issues.
“Water quality is getting better,” he said.
National’s main aim as the Opposition was to hold the Labour-led Government to account, Mr Bridges said.
The aim of the meetings was to listen to people and gather feedback that would help formulate policy before the next election, he said.
Mr Bridges talked about his background and growing up in west Auckland.
“My father was a Baptist minister and my mother was a teacher.”
His experience as a Crown prosecutor had given him insight into serious crimes such as murder and rape and this had shaped his thinking on law and order, he said.
“I think we need to be very tough on these things.”
He described the recent Labour Budget as being the easiest one to put together in a long time, as there was money in the kitty to allocate to things.
Among his other concerns was the decline in business confidence and a lack of planning to keep the economy growing.