Tuesday, 19 September 2017 08:55

Nat’s bank on ballot

Written by 
Nathan Guy. Nathan Guy.

The lease and sale of Landcorp farms could help young farmers buy their first farm under a National government.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy revealed this new dimension to National’s primary industry policy last week in Gisborne.

The policy somewhat resembles the ballot scheme which offered returned WWII ex-servicemen the opportunity to buy farms. The Department of Lands ran the scheme.

Guy says National would direct Landcorp to lease farms to young farmers, with the opportunity to buy them at market rates when they had built up enough capital. But to qualify they would have to work the land for five to ten years, or longer if they needed, to get the cash to buy.

Guy says the farms would be awarded on a lease-to-buy arrangement, with leases awarded by a panel and ballot.

It would be prioritised towards young farmers experienced at running a farm but not having already been sole owner of a farm.

“The Government owns a large number of commercial farms through Landcorp, but there is no clear public good from Crown ownership and little financial return to taxpayers.

“We think some of these farms would be better off in the hands of hard-working young farming families committed to modern farming and environmental best practice.

“Many farming families got their start through the old Lands and Survey ballot process and we want to give that opportunity to more New Zealanders.”

Guy says he would expect about 100 young farming families to benefit from the scheme.

Not all Landcorp’s 140 farms would be sold. Some larger farms would be divided into smaller units more appropriate for first-time owners.

He notes that many Landcorp farms are subject to Treaty claims and others to a right-of-first-refusal by iwi; these rights would be respected.

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