A group of Aucklanders wants to Save The Farms .
Not from pests and diseases, high rates bills, compliance costs and a myriad of other real threats. They want to save us from the perceived threat of foreign ownership.
Rather than saving our farms, StF is threatening them.
It is an incorporated society whose purpose is to:
- Maintain ownership by New Zealand citizens of all agricultural and sensitive land and land of cultural importance.
- To gain an immediate Moratorium on the sale of this land to foreign investors.
- To promote and stimulate informed public debate around these objectives in a non political and partisan manner.
- To promote a revision of the Overseas Investment Act 2005.
To this end they want the government:
- to put a moratorium on the sale of the Crafar farms and other sensitive agricultural land.
- to give urgency to the proposed review of the Overseas Investment Act 2005 incorporating a robust programme for public submission as announced by the Prime Minister.
- The moratorium on the sale of sensitive agricultural land remains until the review of the Act has been completed.
This is a direct attack on property rights and farm values.
What do they mean by “our” farms anyway? The only farms which might be considered “ours” are those owned by Landcorp.
The rest aren’t “ours”. They are the property of the many individuals, trusts, companies and other bodies who have purchased the land.
Excluding foreign buyers would have an immediate and negative impact on the price of farmland. Other would-be purchasers might enjoy that but would-be sellers and the hundreds of other land owners whose farms’ values would plummet, and their creditors, would not.
What makes farms special or different from commercial or residential property, businesses and companies that all foreigners should be prevented from buying it?
Around 80% of our forestry is foreign-owned as are many other companies operating here including several vineyards and wineries and hotel chains. A Chinese company has a big stake in PGG Wrightson which gives them access to PGW’s intellectual property in seed development.
Most of our banks are foreign owned and their policies and operations impact on the day to day life of New Zealanders directly in a way that farms do not.
The Overseas Investment Act already requires vetting of would-be purchasers of more than 5 hectares of non-urban land.
Regardless of who the owners are they can’t take the land with them and are subject to the same laws and regulations governing what they can do with it as everyone else.
Bernard Hickey says SOF’s is a myopic, xenophobic campiagn which needs debating.
I agree with his adjectives and think a discussion on the facts would be helpful. It could start with a KPMG report which found:
KPMG’s Head of Agribusiness, Ian Proudfoot says:
“As a small, developed economy New Zealand has always required inbound investment to support the standards of living we are now accustomed to, and this holds true even in the current environment. The agricultural sector in particular lacks sufficient equity to take advantage of the opportunities available to it and foreign investment offers the potential for us to maximise the value of our land. Events of the last year have demonstrated we are not always able or prepared to finance these opportunities from our own resources.
“The high price of quality agricultural land in New Zealand and our remoteness to the rest of world means that even with the natural benefits of water and the link product has to New Zealand’s sustainable brand we are unlikely to be top of the list of preferred destinations for most international land investors currently looking for opportunities,” says Mr Proudfoot.
In other words there is no need for SoF’s campaign because in spite of perceptions to the contrary, New Zealand farmland isn’t particularly attractive to foreign investors.
Given that and our need for capital, those who want to come here should not be discouraged without good reason and not being citizens is not by itself a good reason.
It is better for farming and New Zealand to allow, or not, sales of farm land to foreigners on a case by case basis than to cut off the investment and ideas which can mean foreign owners give far more to New Zealand than they take.
The threat of foreign ownership is a perception, the threat to farms and their owners from a blanket ban on foreign ownership is real.