The growing rural urban divide in New Zealand is causing problems for farmers according to New Zealand Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills.
Bruce told the Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers annual provincial conference on Tuesday that primary production accounts for 50 per cent or $25 billion worth of its exports, and that income is generated by 35,000 farmers.
“Today 98 per cent of New Zealanders are not farmers and New Zealand becomes more urbanised each month.”
Bruce says that trend is creating a bigger gulf between the urban and rural sectors, especially when it comes to voting in national elections.
“Our 35,000 farmers could be out-voted by South Auckland.”
Bruce says the threat is that as fewer people have an understanding of farming and what is involved in producing the food they eat and the value of primary production to the national economy, the farming sector could struggle to maintain its influence at a government level.
“Federated Farmers enjoys good support from the current National government which has nine farmers in its cabinet. However, in 2014 or 2017 there will be a change of government. New Zealand history shows we tend to boot a government out after six to nine years.”
Bruce says for that reason Federated Farmers is working to establish relationships and understandings with other parties including Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First.