A KPMG survey found that people who work the land aren’t bothered by who owns it:
KPMG interviewed 98 industry leaders for its Agribusiness Agenda, which reveals restricting foreign investment in agriculture land and assets is among their lowest priorities.
No surprises there, anyone with a real connection to farming knows it’s not who owns the land but how they farm it that matters.
Head of Agribusiness Ian Proudfoot told NBR ONLINE industry leaders realise that throughout New Zealand’s history, offshore investment has always featured.
“Initially it came from Britain, then Europe, the United States and Australia, and now the Asian countries who have got surplus cash and are looking for good investment opportunities.
“We can’t turn our back on foreign investment now. That would be inappropriate just because it’s coming from a country where we have less in common than we did with previous investors.”
While people who rarely get closer to a farm than looking over the fence as they travel along main highways are exercised over foreign investment, those directly affected welcome it.
Farmers’ main concern around the Crafar farms issue is that if you refuse offshore investors, there are not enough New Zealand buyers to purchase the land, despite claims to the contrary, he says.
“Without those foreign investors to support market prices, the value of the assets the farmers have are worth less in reality.
“Therefore the amount they can borrow goes down and the ability to grow their business is reduced.”
One argument put forward by opponents of foreign investment is that it puts land prices out of the reach of locals.
Land has never been easy to buy. The harm done to the businesses of the many who aren’t selling would far outweigh the benefits to the few who might get a bargain if there was less foreign investment or worse, none at all.