by Steffan Browning
The decision by the Court of Appeal regarding the Crafar farms is disappointing.
The Court of Appeal has concluded that Shanghai Pengxin has sufficient business experience and acumen to run the farming business.
In reality New Zealand state owned enterprise Landcorp will be running the Crafar farms on behalf of Shanghai Pengxin.
Prime Minister John Key stated in 2010 he‘[didn’t] want New Zealanders to become tenants in their own country as foreign companies seek to buy up farms’. Well that is exactly what is happening with the Crafar farms.
The Overseas Investment Office allowed Shanghai Pengxin’s bid because it considers that this investment would bring substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand.
This fails to take into account that a New Zealand farmer would have been able to bring the currently bankrupt and rundown farms back to life and profitability.
In reality an overseas firm has been able to buy up the Crafar farms because the New Zealand Government has a free trade deal with China and doesn’t want to rock the boat.
Decisions such as that made by the Court of Appeal will ultimately mean that any foreign investor that can outbid New Zealand farmers will be able to buy up land in New Zealand. And that can only be bad for the long term future of New Zealand agriculture.