3 Aug 2010

New system for setting high country rents

5:08 pm on 3 August 2010

The Government has announced a new system for setting rents for South Island high country pastoral leases.

There are 231 pastoral leases, mainly in Canterbury and Central Otago, covering about 1.5 million hectares.

The issue of high country rents has been contentious, with farmers taking legal action last year against proposed rental rises, challenging the way they were calculated.

Following a review, the Government says it will now base rents on the earning capacity of each farm.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says the new system will provide fairer rents, as well as greater certainty to farmers and will make further legal action on the issue unnecessary.

Mr Carter says the system takes into account the productive capacity of each lease and pastoral economic conditions.

The new legislation is being drafted and Mr Carter hopes it will be introduced into Parliament later this year.

Federated Farmers 'cautiously optimistic'

Federated Farmers vice-president Donald Aubrey believes the new system can work effectively and farmers are cautiously optimistic.

However, he says the federation is disappointed that some farmers who now face back-rents of up to five years will not get any relief, although they can pay it off over five years.

Mr Aubrey says the rental rate is yet to be finalised and it is hoped the process will go smoothly.

High Country farmers say the new system will be much simpler and more transparent.

Jonathan Wallis, chair of the group High Country Accord, says farmers have never sought anything other than a fair rent.