Bill to protect farmers passes first reading

NZ First Party

Mark Patterson, Primary Industries Spokesperson

New Zealand First is today welcoming the unanimous passage of the Farm Debt Mediation Bill through its first reading in Parliament.

The Bill was originally a New Zealand First Primary Industries Spokesperson Mark Patterson’s Member’s legislation introduced to Parliament last year, which aims to address the power imbalance between farmers and their creditors, ensuring options are explored for farmers in financial distress before banks can take enforcement action.

“The agricultural sector remains the backbone of the New Zealand economy. But the sector faces circumstances out of its control, such as weather events, biosecurity incursions and fluctuations in commodity markets. It is also facing high levels of debt, ballooning from around $11 billion to $63 billion in the past 20 years,” says Mr Patterson.

“This bill is about giving farmers a fair go. It applies not only to those farmers who have defaulted on payments, but also to farmers who have fallen below the required level of equity in their business. It will make sure all options are explored to turn around failing farm businesses.

“The Bill’s passage through first reading represents a major milestone. New Zealand First introduced this type of legislation to Parliament first in 1999, and then again in 2015 and 2018. The issue was also a priority for New Zealand First during coalition negotiations. We could not be more proud to have secured this for our farming community.

“New Zealand First looks forward to hearing from the farming community during the select committee process and to the Bill’s further progression through the House.” says Mr Patterson.

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