World Food Conference

Today is the last day of the World Food Conference in Rome. New Zealand has sent 11 people to this conference, with Jim Anderton, Minister of Agriculture, as the leader of this group. Along with Jim Anderton are other politicians, a climate scientist and a fisheries representative.
The conference opened on June 3rd with a speech by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, who talked about the world food problems and especially how millions of people today are hungry.
Jim Anderton made a speech about New Zealand’s part in feeding the world. He said we are a successful country in agriculture and one reason for this is that we got rid of government subsidies on farming in the 1980s. A subsidy is money paid by the government to the farmer so that we, the consumers, can pay less for milk and other farm produce. Many EU countries and the United States are still paying subsidies to their farmers and this makes it hard for African countries to sell food to other countries. It is not economic for them to compete with EU countries in producing food. Another reason New Zealand has been successful, said Mr Anderton, is the removal of taxes on imports. He believes that free trade is better.
Not everyone agrees with him. The Green Party representative at the conference, Sue Kedgley, says that she thinks free trade does not help poor countries.
Mr Anderton also told the conference that New Zealand will give $7 million to the World Food Programme and $2.5 million to International Agricultural Research. The New Zealand government has already planned to spend $700 million over the next 10 years in our own country on research on food production.

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