21 Oct 2011

Labour wants to limit overseas investment in farmland

6:27 am on 21 October 2011

Labour is targeting farm ownership in its agricultural election policy.

Party leader Phil Goff says the country can't afford to lose control of its best income-producing assets by selling off its farmland to foreign investors.

He says Labour would toughen the Overseas Investment Act so that any future overseas buyers of farm or forestry land would have to prove they offer additional value to the country.

Mr Goff says an example of an exception would be an overseas buyer who wanted to buy land to plant trees and build a pulp and paper mill which would create jobs.

But he says in most cases people are buying land to make a capital gain on it and they are not bringing new technology or an increase in productivity.

Mr Goff, who released the policy at the Hawke's Bay A & P showgrounds in Hastings, says Labour would also attempt to improve returns for farmers, who are often at the mercy of the exchange rate.

He says it would amend the primary functions of the Reserve Bank to stabilise the currency and give farmers and exporters greater certainty.

Mr Goff has also reaffirmed Labour's position on including livestock emissions in the emissions trading scheme by 2013.

Policy too interventionist - Fed Farmers

Federated Farmers says what Labour is proposing is far too interventionist and unlikely to help it win back provincial seats.

President Bruce Wills says that while fluctuations in the exchange rate are problematic for exporters, he is not comfortable with any moves to interfere with a market-based mechanism, especially with little detail on what is actually being proposed.