Winston Peters wants state-owned pest fur company called 'ecoFur'

Winston Peters wants to establish a state-owned company that processes and exports the fur of pests like possums, stoats and ferrets.

The New Zealand First leader has a policy to set up what he calls "ecoFur" and is set to try and force Labour and National to agree to it as a price of his support.

The little-known policy on fur is listed on the New Zealand First website and was discovered during a Newshub analysis of 25 policy concessions that Winston Peters will likely win. 

Winston Peters wants state-owned pest fur company called 'ecoFur'
Photo credit: NZ First

Listed under the 'Outdoor Recreation' section, the policy says: "Establish a Crown Company to develop 'ecoFur' as the world's only ecologically friendly fur label to support a value-adding New Zealand fur industry (wild possums, stoats and ferrets)."

The policy is part of New Zealand's First's opposition to 1080, preferring to use 'ground control' instead and create jobs in places like the West Coast and Northland.

While it sounds off-beat and is not costed by New Zealand First, it is unlikely either National or Labour would view ecoFur as a 'deal-breaker' as they try to win power.

However, there would be criticism it is essentially a sunset industry from the beginning, given there is a Government goal to be predator-free by 2050.

The New Zealand Fur Council estimates that possum fur alone is worth $134 million a year and employs 1500 people.

In March this year, Winston Peters said: "New Zealand First is fully committed to completely ending the use of 1080 in New Zealand as soon as is possible, and doing so without compromising our pest control requirements.

"On gaining office we will: Ensure that all pest control activities are optimised around turning adversity into opportunity, by maximising the economic potential of pest animals through the harvesting of fur and meat, and the provision of both regional employment, and export earnings."

And in 2016, Mr Peters addressed Agcarm, the industry body for plant and animal science industries in New Zealand, about the ecoFur policy with a speech called 'Realising Real Opportunities'.

He said: "Sound pest control would turn a problem into an economic opportunity. More so in areas like Northland and the West Coast that share a similar possum scourge and employment challenge."

National's recent Northland economic plan catalogues National's less than stellar record there. 

The unemployment rate is 3 percent above the national average while nominal GDP per capita is 32 percent below the national average. No less than 20 percent of Northlanders live in deprived areas.

NZ First claims ground control will help to form the world's only "ethical eco-fur industry within a global fur industry that's worth US$40bn."