SHUFFLED UP: Todd Muller has been given the agriculture, biosecurity and food safety spokesman after last week’s retirement announcement by Nathan Guy. File photo

BAY OF Plenty Federated Farmers says having local MP Todd Muller take over the role of agriculture, biosecurity and food safety spokesman is a “bonus”.

“Todd has his head around climate change. With that and his background in Fonterra, we here are quite pleased he was given the job,” president Darryl Jensen said.

“It is a bit of a bonus when your local MP has a relatively high position in the shadow cabinet.”

He said Mr Muller’s experience working on the climate change policy created a lot of credibility and trust among farmers. He did not foresee Mr Muller’s reassignment as being a signal that National was changing its stance within the sector.

“I think it will be business as usual for us in the agriculture sector. We know he has a real understanding and a good rapport with farmers,” he said.

Some pundits questioned whether the shuffle could be considered a promotion given that the Labour Government has reprioritised MPI’s ranking in cabinet. Mr Jensen said agriculture’s ranking of 17th in cabinet reflected a major change of priorities.

“Back in the day, the minister of agriculture had a ranking of number four or five – it goes to show how times have changed,” he said.

In an interview with Scoop, Mr Muller said the promotion was consistent with his previous work on the climate change policy. He said he was looking forward to seeing that work come to fruition in his new role.

“For me now to assist in framing that up and what the role of Government is, I’m so excited about getting into that,” he said.

“We have the most emissions-efficient farmers in the world and that should be celebrated, but we can’t stand still,” he said.

“The conversation around how to manage climate change on-farm and getting to the point where we can measure and manage it, all that stuff remains true.

“I’m not going to suddenly fall mute.”

He said a key area of debate in this round of submissions on climate change legislation was whether proposed methane emissions targets were too onerous, and potentially unachievable.

Mr Muller will take over Mr Guy’s role as agriculture, biosecurity and food safety spokesman while retaining his forestry portfolio.