Minister Shane Jones says high debt, Aussie banks, and climate change to blame for dairy farming’s woes

As New Zealand dairy farming is going through a “reset”, the Coalition Government is not the one responsible for it, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

"The Aussie banks, they're obviously flexing their muscles. ANZ's sitting on a pile of drama with a lot of their borrowings according to the Reserve Bank. So you can't just blame Ministers in terms of the reset”.

Public opinion, climate change and environmental awareness have also added pressure on dairy farmers, resulting in the "deep problems of meeting the costs of transitioning to a type of agriculture that has a better social licence”.

Minister Jones was quick to point out that the Coalition Government was not anti-farming, a perception he said came about from "a lot of exaggeration and mischief making" from the National Party.

He also believed that farmers should look closer to home when it came to letting the side down.

"I want to work with the farmers, but a lot of the farmers, they have high quality leaders who deliver silvery speeches, but they've got laggards in their owns ranks as well,” the Minister said.

“Why have they not demanded heads of a platter when they've blown the economic equivalent of $2 billion over the last 18 years in their own Fonterra company? Tidy up your own house before you start lecturing me”.

The Minister also added that farmers can only blame themselves for incurring a high level of debt.

"It's the farmers themselves who have borrowed the $47b worth of debt against the dairy farmers - 35 per cent of that debt is on farms that need a $6.20 payout. The Government didn't do that. That debt has grown by 340-odd per cent."

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