18 Oct 2010

Finance Minister challenges farmers on investment

6:06 am on 18 October 2010

Finance Minister Bill English has thrown a challenge to the farming sector about shedding its tunnel vision on investment.

Mr English was responding to a question at a Family Help Trust function in Christchurch about the challenges of attracting investment in New Zealand's primary industries.

He said the farming community seems reluctant to get to grips with collective capital raising issues that other sectors have solved.

Mr English said even the dairy industry, which has been relatively successful, is going through a difficult and lengthy process of trying to restructure their capital.

He said dairy farmers have been more interested in trebling the land price over the last 10 years than in investing in their own company.

Mr English said the meat industry knows it needs extensive restructuring, but is not willing to invest.

He said it's difficult to restructure an industry with no capital.

Mr English said Fonterra's capital restructuring, aimed at getting dairy farmers to invest more in their own company, could provide a model for the meat industry, if it works and farmers back it.