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An Environment Southland councillor has questioned whether farmers will be paid to convert land for the benefit of the environment.

The Environmental Defence Society annual conference started in Christchurch on Wednesday.

To a panel discussing environmental reforms and land use change in New Zealand, Cr Peter McDonald said it was not that long ago dairy that farmers in Southland had the red carpet rolled out for them.

‘‘Now we’re telling people, ‘It’s a bad thing, no no no’,’’ he said.

He found it an interesting question as to how a transition would be funded, if it was.

Castalia manager Dr David Gawith said it was a question of what was a reasonable reference level.

‘‘I think there is a genuine case for offering some reward ... considering the scale of land use change that’s required and in order for us to meet our long-term goals, we need to think very seriously about land retirement of marginal farms.’’

If a farm was to cease farming, the value of that land was not zero.

‘‘We need to find a way of really capturing benefits of letting land revert or restoring land.’’

Comments

You live in a democratic capitalistic country with an open economy and a dedication to a free market.
That means that you get to capitalise, (that is keep and spend) your profits as you see fit, it also mean that if you suffer a loss you carry that and look to minimise it in the future. It does not mean that your losses are covered off by the Tax payer. We are not your insurance company.
The fact that a beneficial circumstance has changed and has the side effect of impinging on your profits is your problem, under a capitalist free market. Not the taxpayers.
Standard business practice would expect that you plan for this contingency and deal with it as it arises, not throw your hands in the air ans say "who knew the world might change?". Everyone knew, the writing has been on the wall for decades. The fact that you chose to ignore it is your problem, not mine.
If transition is to be funded it should be as loans from the market, not the taxpayer, and should be repaid at standard commercial rates.

I remember the regional councils, all ratepayers, funded for fencing and planting of shelter belts - then along came dairying and it all became a waste of money and free firewood to farmers, even although it was to the regional and area benefit for all.

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