In opposition the three parties now in government were opposed to foreign ownership of farmland.
In government they have made it so much harder for foreigners to buy farms to farm it’s almost impossible for them to do so. But the hoops the overseas buyers have to go through to buy farms to convert to forestry are much lower.
That means would-be foreign buyers are very, very unlikely to get Overseas Investment Office approval to buy distressed dairy or sheep and beef farms, even with plans, and both the ability and funds, to improve them.
But the same buyers would be Almost certain to get OIO approval to buy those same farms if they intended to turn them into forests.
Overseas interests already own 70% of New Zealand forestry.
Making it much easier to buy farms to plant trees than to raise stock, for arable farming or horticulture, will mean even more forestry is foreign owned.
Forestry is becoming an F word among farmers and rural communities concerned about the environmental, economic and social impacts of the rapid afforestation of productive farmland.
They can rightly apply the H word – hypocrisy – to Labour, New Zealand First and Green Parties for their policy of making it easier for overseas purchasers to do this.
But wait there’s more.
These overseas entities will be able to offset their carbon emissions in their homelands, or from investments in other countries, with the trees they plant here.
It’s very tempting to use another F word to express my feelings about this.