Export lamb and beef prices reached new highs in the September 2019 quarter, while forestry products fell sharply.
Mike Butterick, speaking for 50 Shades of Green, told Rural News it wants the government to stop planting trees on good farmland immediately and fully assess the long term effect of the policy.
It also wants the government to halt all Overseas Investment Office (OIO) applications for forestry until an assessment is made.
“The government changed the rules to make it relatively easy for overseas investors to buy up productive farmland and plant it in trees,” he explains
“We are not beating up forestry. It is really the environment being created by the policy settings which we believe... are creating something that wasn’t intended.
“The other worrying thing is the great speed at which this is happening.”
Butterick does not know how many productive farms have already been converted to forestry. However, he says in Wairarapa alone up to 8000ha on seven farms have moved from productive farmland to forest.
Rural News has also been told of at least two farms near Gisborne recently planted in pine trees.
“It doesn’t feel good and it isn’t right,” Butterick said.
He says polices sometimes don’t deliver the intended outcome and in that case policy makers should “stop and go back to the drawing board”.
So it is when pine trees are planted on highly productive farmland, he says.
“You can’t eat wood. Taking those farms out of production will have a devastating effect economically, socially and environmentally on the local community. Instead of revitalising the provinces, tree planting will destroy them.”