Thursday, 12 September 2019 13:25

No more houses!

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says NZ’s most fertile and versatile land will get new protection. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says NZ’s most fertile and versatile land will get new protection.

Farmer groups are backing Government proposals to prevent productive land from falling to housing development. Horticultural land is especially in view.

The Government’s draft National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) proposes a nationwide approach to protecting highly productive land for future generations. About 14% of NZ land is classified ‘highly productive’. 

A two month consultation is underway. Stats NZ says urban expansion threatens all forms of land based primary production. But horticulture is especially at risk. 

The scale and value of horticulture hubs, on typically flat, well serviced land at urban fringes, makes that sector more vulnerable to urban expansion than other types of farming. 

From 2002 to 2016, NZ’s land area used for vegetable growing decreased 29% from 100,000ha to 70,000ha.

HortNZ’s natural resources and environment manager, Michelle Sands, says the Government’s proposal is to help retain vegetable and fruit growing in NZ. “NZ needs its best soils for domestic food production,” said Sands.

“Once you build houses on the best soils you cannot get the soils back. 

“With good planning and buffer zones, houses and horticulture can co-exist, which is important for three main reasons: one, so growers can make best use of available land; two, so growers can quickly get fresh produce to market; and three, so growers have access to workers, given how labour intensive horticulture is.”

Sands says keeping the best soils for producing food also helps the transition to a low emissions economy.

HortNZ says poor rules in Auckland are preventing new vegetable gardens being set up to replace land lost to housing.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says NZ’s most fertile and versatile land will get new protection.

“Our land is a precious taonga – an irreplaceable treasure and a source of life and wellness,” said O’Connor.

“We cannot afford to lose our most highly productive land. 

“It brings economic benefits including employment for nearby communities, and adds value to NZ’s primary sector.”

» Connect with Rural News

More like this

No threat to farming from forestry

OPINION: There’s some agitation out there at the moment about farming being under threat from forestry. Much of what’s circulating is based on misinformation so it’s time to lay out the facts.

Cherry on top for station’s returns

Twelve hectares of cherry trees planted in September at Mt Pisa Station, Central Otago complete the first stage of a $15.5 million cherry project by the horticultural investment firm Hortinvest.

Hort export figures challenged

Horticulture's export revenue growth is likely to be about 10% in the current financial year – not the 3.8% forecast by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

» The RNG Weather Report

Featured

Making it OK to ask for help

Meat processing company Alliance has started an employee support programme aimed at getting colleagues to look after each other and keep an eye out for possible mental health issues.

 

Johnstone bows out on top

When Lachie Johnstone first started on the board of Farmlands 19 years ago the rural services cooperative ran 32 stores with a turnover of $280 million.

‘Useful’ recruitment tool

Employers say a Government-backed free website, Work the Seasons, is becoming a useful part of their seasonal recruitment toolbox.

» Connect with Rural News

» Connect with Rural News

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Logging spin

OPINION: The Hound notes that the foreign-owned and controlled NZ forestry industry is starting to feel the pressure of the…

EU waste

OPINION: This old mutt was interested to read a recent New York Times expose of the European Union’s agriculture subsidy…

» Connect with Rural News