David Mahon, managing director of Mahon China Investment Management suggests long-term leases could be better than selling land to foreigners:
Perhaps there could be a trust that acquires agricultural land from anybody. So farmers can sell, in a real sense, get value for their land, and then foreign buyers coming in acquire land through that trust. And that trust could base sales on the fact that all land purchased in New Zealand was leasehold.
But who pays for the land when it’s sold to the trust?
Tim Watkin suggests the government could:
Obviously private farmers can keep doing their thing, but if and when they want to sell, the government could bid and, should it win, build up a land bank to be leased to offshore investors. We all own the land, but we still attract foreign capital.
What if the government doesn’t win and even if it does, is buying more farm land the best use of public money ,especially when public debt is so high?