Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean’s views were regarded as a breath of fresh air by farmers at a Merino field day in Tarras:
Dean . . . said the Government realised high country lessees were among those farming sustainably.
. . . We don’t have an agenda to drive Merino off the high country and we don’t have an agenda to froce access on the land whether it is land under tenure review or freehold.
She said the Government also opposed striking rents based on amenity values and instead believed they should be linked to the property’s productivity.
. . . Dean said she was particularly interested in seeing grazing licences reintroduced in the high country and it was a view also held by the Government, if it was appropriate and backed by the farming community.
“There’s a fresh wind blowing through the New Zealand agricultural sectoar and the political agenda which you have been battling collectively and individually over the past nine years has gone.”
High country lessees have been facing uncertainty about their futures and paying rents several times greater than their gross incomes because of the previous government’s policies which sent a very clear message that farmers were neither appreciated nor wanted in the high country.
High country farmer John Perriam of Bendigo Station said Dean’s views were “refreshing” for the industry and put confidence back into the high country, which was desperately needed.
. . . He also endorsed the Government’s views on abolishing rents based on amenity values.
“A sheep with a view doesn’t grow any more wool than one without a view.”
The beauty of the high country is a product of generations of careful stewardship by farming families but it doesn’t contribute to pastoral farm incomes. It is indeed refreshing to have an MP and a government which appreciates that.