New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER), Wellington
This paper aims to highlight the continued importance to New Zealand’s economic future of having a vibrant farming sector. It argues that New Zealand policymakers cannot afford to ignore or downplay the contribution of the primary sector in favour of promoting ‘sexy’ industries such as ICT and the creative industries. By looking at how the New Zealand farming sector has overcome the significant adjustment costs of deregulation and the removal of assistance, and how it has diversified and adapted its product mix, it will be argued that the medium term outlook for the primary sector is very bright. This paper shows that other countries considering the removal of agricultural assistance can learn a great deal from New Zealand’s experience over the past two decades. Finally, the key challenges facing New Zealand’s farmers are examined to consider how policymakers might assist the farming sector to maximise its potential.