BECKIE WILSON

beckie.wilson@age.co.nz

Wairarapa farmers are hoping the splitting up of the Ministry of Primary Industries [MPI] into forestry, fisheries and agriculture ministries will not cause too much disruption.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the reshuffle would allow for greater focus on each sector.

Labour’s Damien O’Connor was named as minister of Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety, Rural Communities, Associate Minister for Trade and Export Growth.

NZ First Shane Jones is now minister of Forestry, Labour Stuart Nash for Fisheries, and David Parker for Environment, Trade and Export Growth.

Wairarapa Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman William Beetham said there was not much more known than the fact the ministries had been split.

One of his concerns for the region was the work done through MPI on the pea weevil response.

“Obviously there are new ministers in place who have to get to grips with all of the issues, but MPI has a lot on at the moment,” Mr Beetham said.

He said local issues were the pea weevil response and making sure there was continuity with “the good work already going on”.

With the large restructure, he hoped the processes in place would not be disrupted.

Clear communication would be key as the ministries divided.

“There could be biosecurity issues that could happen across forestry, agriculture and fisheries, and so it’s obviously hugely important that once they split up, that internally they have good communication,” he said.

While it is still early days, Mr Beetham was sure questions would be answered soon.

“I’m sure the ministers will have a good idea on how they will manage these issues.”

Guy Farman of Farman Turkington Forestry Ltd in Masterton takes a similar approach to Mr Beetham regarding the little information given on the new structure.

But Mr Farman said anything that gave the forestry industry a stronger focus, and commitment from the Government could only be a positive.

“I think their afforestation targets are very ambitious and I’m a little cautious about what regulations they will try to impose on forest ownership and if they put any controls or restrictions on the exporting of logs,” Mr

Farman said.

“But otherwise, it’s brilliant to hear that the government finally recognises forestry as a significant contributor to GDP and the environment.”

The focus on economic development in the regions also appealed to him, he said.