by Staff Writers
Wellington (AFP) Feb 15, 2012
New Zealand's High Court on Wednesday overturned a decision to allow a Chinese company to buy a bankrupt dairy farm group, in a case which has sparked heated debate about foreign land ownership.
The court ordered the government to reconsider its approval for China's Shanghai Pengxin Group to purchase the 16-property Crafar Farms group, saying it had overstated the deal's economic benefits to New Zealand.
The proposal has met with fierce opposition in the farm-reliant country, with critics fearing an influx of foreign investors will snap up New Zealand's prime agricultural land.
New Zealand, the world's largest dairy exporter, has seen overseas interest in the sector increase amid rising demand from Asia.
Prime Minister John Key, who has previously expressed concern about New Zealanders becoming "tenants in their own land", has supported the sale, saying New Zealand cannot turn down investors simply because they are Chinese.
Key's Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson last month said critics of the deal were "bordering on racism", arguing that less than two percent of New Zealand farmland was owned by foreigners, mostly from Europe or America.
However, the main opposition Labour Party has called the planned sale "gutless, unpatriotic and unproductive".
Shanghai Pengxin has offered a reported NZ$210 million ($176 million) for the North Island farms, pledging significant investment in the properties, which have not been maintained since the original owners went into receivership in 2009.
But a New Zealand-based consortium -- which has a rival NZ$171.5 million bid -- challenged the deal, saying the law required any sale of farmland to foreigners to have a clear economic benefit to the country and it failed the test.
The court backed the rival consortium, the Crafar Farms Purchase Group, finding that any purchaser, whether from New Zealand or overseas, would have to invest heavily in the farms in order to improve them.
"That being so, the economic benefits caused by the overseas investment were materially overstated in the OIO (Overseas Investment Office) recommendation," it ruled.
Williamson said Wednesday that the OIO would consider the court's judgement and make a fresh recommendation on whether the sale should proceed "in a matter of days, not weeks".
Farming Today - Suppliers and Technology
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
Use space technology for food security: Former ISRO chief
Agartala (IANS) Feb 15, 2012
India must embark on a "new evergreen revolution" with the extensive use of appropriate bio- and space technology inputs to ensure food security for all and enable the country to compete successfully in a globalised economy, says renowned space scientist U.R. Rao. India's population is bound to cross 1.6 billion by 2050, which will demand doubling of our foodgrain production to ensu ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|