[6 February/Rural News]

Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor, has returned from a recent trip to Europe with a strengthened belief that New Zealand needs a vision and strategic plan for the agribusiness sector.  Having visited a number of countries as well as the Green Week trade show in Berlin, he said the language in Europe is around food strategies rather than farm production strategies.  He said that there is a need for New Zealand to do the same and he hopes that the Primary Production Council that he plans to have up and running by April will help facilitate a strategy and make it happen.  During his trip the Minister met officials and Ministers from a number of countries and reinforced New Zealand’s desire to seek a free trade agreement with the European Union, something he believes we are well placed to progress.  Minister O’Connor did not meet with UK Ministers on this trip but he highlighted that New Zealand was not seeking to exploit the uncertainty associated with Brexit.  He said that his discussions in Ireland highlighted that both countries believe that reducing barriers to trade will help both New Zealand and Ireland to become better off.