The good life neighbours

Holly Walker’s press release this week outlined why urban sprawl doesn’t solve our housing crisis and doesn’t work for people looking for affordable housing.

It also doesn’t work for our farming communities.

As this article outlines, with residential dwellings stretching ever outward into food producing areas we see farming practices coming into conflict with their new neighbours.

I am not in any way wanting to condone spray drifts and their like, but I am concerned about the impact that residential neighbours have on the ability of farmers to make a good living and run their businesses efficiently. Worrying about your neighbours’ sleep is one of the last things you want to be doing when you are getting up at dawn to tend to your animals and crops.

Agricultural production is integral to our economy and so allowing urban sprawl to be taking up more and more of New Zealand’s productive land is just irresponsible. This is also a global problem affecting important local food production, and farmers in Victoria, Australia are experiencing this deeply.

I know this first hand as the very productive land next to my last horticultural unit in Marlborough, is now a big box retail development.

4 Comments Posted

  1. Urban sprawl does not address the housing affordability issue, in fact it exacerbates the problem.
    One of the negative externalities of urban sprawl is the forced eviction of farmers off their land by ever increasing rates levied off highly speculated land values. Farmers are forced to subdivide; they do not willingly hand over their land to high net worth individuals to build McMansions and lifestyle block playpens. In this process a feedback loop emerges where by the increased land values from these lifestyle blocks forces up the land value stats in the area and therefore rates increase which sends every farmer in a downward spiral of diminishing returns. Some farmers are facing ROC of 0.4-1% which is not sustainable.
    Once the land is gone, it is gone for good and still it does not tackle to issue of housing affordability one single bit. Many forget the hidden costs that this imposes socially and financially on the rural sector.

  2. I think Arana is asking the right question.

    I can’t help thinking of those small island states like, I think Singapore is one of them, where they are becoming more reliant on food imports, as their land is being taken up by residential sprawl. we don’t face quiet as a big impact on our food production as an island state does, but I think the same issues arise. Although I think the cost of travel when faced with urban sprawl, has a bigger impact on our economic wellbeing than lose of food production land.

  3. Clearly the horticultural land doesn’t have as high economic value as a big box retailer, indicating we have adequate surplus of productive agricultural land.

    If that situation ever reverses, the box retailer will be pulled down and cleared for farming. Why would the owners leave money on the table?

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