CraFarm saga reaches the end, perhaps

Published: Tue 6 Jul 2010 05:24 PM
CraFarm saga reaches the end, perhaps
Federated Farmers is calling for perspective on the sale of the 16 remaining CraFarm properties, for which the international tenders close tomorrow afternoon.
“It’s fair to say a novel will be written about this, given developments since the receivership last October,” says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.
“I must say this has been a surprisingly public process but our concern as a Federation is the receivers’ clear desire to sell the 16 farms as a complete unit.
“Federated Farmers does not believe Bayleys, KordaMentha or the Crown should remove the opportunity from New Zealand farmers to acquire individual farms. In saying this, we welcome Landcorp’s statement that if successful, it will move to sell down the portfolio.
“As there are other overseas companies looking to acquire Kiwi farms, the underlying issue is New Zealand’s weak capital markets. With relation to CraFarm, Landcorp is really the only bid we know of that doesn’t involve significant overseas capital.
“This probably still reflects the finance company implosion that burnt through vast amounts of domestic capital. New Zealand is utterly dependent upon overseas capital and rectifying this is a major policy challenge for Government and an issue for corporate and rural New Zealand.
“Farms and businesses are still being bought and sold but that’s largely using foreign capital, either directly through outright sale or indirectly through lending from banks, much of which is using overseas funds.
“With overseas investment, Federated Farmers is now reviewing our policy. We cannot stifle the entrepreneurial endeavour of New Zealanders wishing to realise the value of their hard work.
“Yet equality of investment opportunity must, I believe, become part of our trade negotiation stance. If we can not secure freehold title abroad then that must be reciprocated in our country-by-country trade agreements.
“This is not the nuttiness from the political fringe, which suggests keeping New Zealand only for New Zealanders. Bumper sticker slogans don’t make for good public policy and if Australia applied that to us, we’d see some upset Kiwis losing their investments over there.
“Overseas investment can be extremely positive, as Shania Twain’s 2004 purchase and development of Motatapu and Mt Soho stations has shown. Kiwis likewise own farms in Canada as well as the Americas, Europe and Australia but it’s based on equality of opportunity.
“Perhaps one positive irony of the CraFarm saga is that that it will ram home to New Zealanders, the high international regard of New Zealand agriculture. Perhaps it’s time for politicians to finally talk up New Zealand farming at home, as they do abroad,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

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