Lessons from agriculture reform in New Zealand
Featuring David Butcher, Former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Forests of New Zealand
When Labour came to power in New Zealand in 1984, it found the economy- and its crucial agricultural sector- crippled by decades of over-regulation and subsidies.
Over the following years, David Butcher - former Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Forests - and his government ended farm subsidies and liberalised agriculture. Far from the chaos critics predicted at the time, New Zealand’s agricultural productivity quadrupled, the agricultural sector grew as a percentage of GDP, and the transition was relatively painless for farmers.
The process was beneficial to both consumers and farmers- and made New Zealand’s farming sector one of the most robust and efficient in the world. These lessons are pressingly relevant today, as cosseted agricultural interest groups hold up vital WTO trade talks and prevent struggling African farmers from participating in global markets.
<i><EM>David Butcher</EM> became New Zealand’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Forests. He subsequently became Minister of Commerce and Energy, and has worked as a consultant in economic and utility reform since his democratic retirement in 1990. </i>