1 Dec 2016

Landcorp farms likely to stay NZ-owned, agent says

6:16 pm on 1 December 2016

The first of 10 Landcorp farms for sale will probably go to New Zealanders, despite Green Party concerns of foreign investment, says the real estate company handling the sale.

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Most of the interest in the land has come from local sources, says PGG Wrightson. Photo: 123rf.com

The state-owned farm company is selling 11,650 hectares, and the tender for the first two of the 10 farms closes in two weeks' time.

The two properties are the 1483 hectare sheep and beef breeding Copper Road Farm, located south-west of Dunedin and the 400ha Caroline Terrace cattle grazing block on Cape Foulwind Farm near Westport.

The Green Party said it was a short-sighted decision by Landcorp, because the valuable farmland could go into offshore hands.

But PGG Wrightson Real Estate general manager Peter Newbold said this was not the case.

"I'd be very surprised if that took place, the majority of the interest to date has all been regionally based or New Zealand based. If by any chance there was an offshore connection, it would be with one of the existing players that already operates within New Zealand."

Mr Newbold said offshore investors were not interested in the type of farm that Landcorp was selling.

"When you look at the one in Otago it's got capacity and scale, so that's a real interest for New Zealand farmers as they are now, or larger entities or corporations - they're very appealing locally."

The Westport property goes to tender on 14 December, and the Otago farm on 16 December.

The farms would probably stay as sheep and beef, because Landcorp had looked after the farms and managed them well, Mr Newbold said.

"The one in Otago at the moment, it's more than likely to stay as a sheep and beef unit. The new owners might change management practices, but I would suggest they stay as they are.

"On the West Coast because of the manuka there's probably an interest in bees, but I'd say they'll stay in similar usage."

Iwi have the first right of refusal on the next eight properties, and Mr Newbold said it was likely that the farms not bought by iwi would be up for tender early next year.

Green Party land information spokesperson Eugenie Sage said local farms should remain in local hands.

"Rather than try to sell the farms, they should be kept in Crown hands so the land can be considered for treaty settlements.

"These sales are a response to uncontrolled and unsustainable dairy expansion under Landcorp's former management regime. Landcorp has become over-exposed through the drop in dairy prices and needs to flog off our farms to remain viable."

Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden said selling and buying land was something the state-owned company had always done.

"This is a dynamic business and we're constantly looking to ensure we have the best shape to meet our strategy. Landcorp's bought and sold 140 farms since 1987.

"Increasingly we're focusing on what we need to produce in the future - what products we can supply, what the best use of our land and farms is, and our overall property ownership and footprint."

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