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Report Ignored, High Country In Shock

Report Ignored, High Country In Shock

13 October 2006

High Country farmers are shocked and saddened at the government’s plan to drastically increase rents on leased High Country stations, despite the recommendations of the Armstrong report, said Donald Aubrey of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

“This proposal will result in a much stress and uncertainty for High Country families with pastoral leases,” said Mr Aubrey. “These families have developed and improved their pastoral leases over many decades, in some cases generations, and now face the prospect of being penalised for all that hard work. They will be gutted.”

His comments follow the release of the Armstrong report and other papers related to a review of pastoral lease rents. The government has ignored the main recommendation of the Armstrong report and said it will consider changing High Country rents to include so-called amenity values, such as views and landscapes.

“The government would be putting us into an impossible position. High Country farmers face the prospect of paying rent for a value which they are excluded from using under the terms of their pastoral lease. This is clearly unfair.

“Pastoral leases were established in 1948 to create an incentive for lessees to manage the land. They were a rescue package for what was considered wasteland. Because of their skilful stewardship, water, soils, amenity values and biodiversity have been protected and improved. Now that has happened, the farmers are being penalised for their investment.”

Mr Aubrey said that High Country families were stoic and adaptable and would pursue the recommendations of the Armstrong report, which said there was “no basis for the claim that existing or proposed rentals are being set at a discount to the market”.

Federated Farmers will be making very strong submissions on the government’s proposals.

Mr Aubrey is the chair of the South Island High Country industry group of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

ENDS

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