28 Sep 2010

Save the Farms seeks tougher sale regulations

5:16 pm on 28 September 2010

A lobby group campaigning for a full public debate on sales of farmland to foreigners says the Government's decision to tighten up overseas investment regulations doesn't go far enough.

Ministers will be given more flexibility to consider a wider range of concerns, including large-scale ownership of farmland, when assessing applications to buy land.

Finance Minister Bill English says the debate over the proposed sale of 16 Crafar family farms in receivership to the Hong Kong-based Natural Dairy company has influenced the rule changes.

But they won't affect that sale, as they don't take effect until December.

That doesn't please Save the Farms, whose spokesperson, Tony Bouchier, has repeated the call for a moratorium on all farm sales to overseas interests. Mr Bouchier says the moratorium should include all land sales, regardless of size.

Federated Farmers says, however, that overseas investment is essential to the economy, and it's hoping the regulations will allow that without blocking opportunities for New Zealanders.