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Feds Applauds Labour's Pledge To Protect Productive Farmland

A commitment from Labour to protect productive farmland from blanket afforestation if re-elected is a step in the right direction, Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.

"We’re really pleased there is now acknowledgement there’s an issue with large-scale exotic plantings - particularly those grown just for carbon credits - swallowing up land used for food and fibre production. The result of this trend is loss of export income, employment and the undermining of rural district social cohesion."

Labour has pledged that if re-elected, within the first six months of the new Parliamentary term they would revise the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry to require forestry blocks larger than 50 hectares on ‘elite soils’ (Land Use Capability Classes 1-5) to obtain resource consent from that district’s council.

While this is one potential solution, Federated Farmers still has question marks over whether what’s proposed will stop sheep and beef farms on the East Coast, which are more likely to be LUC 6 or higher, being taken over by blanket afforestation, William says.

"We’d much rather Labour had taken on board the strong opposition on the topic expressed for many months now by the wider agricultural sector and some environmental NGOs, and not rushed through policy changes that have led to this issue.

"But it’s a welcome sign Labour is demonstrating a growing commitment to protecting productive farmland for our vital food and fibre industry, and backing their own calls for the ‘right tree in the right place’."

Federated Farmers would be happy to work with industry and government to thrash out effective and practical settings.

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