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Consultant urges farming investment

FARM consultant Peter Andrew has told the the council’s Future Tairawhiti committee that farming would be the best place for the government’s $1 billion regional development funding to be invested.

Farming in this district was in great heart but there had to be investment in the infrastructure supporting it, especially roads.

It was great to see the district was being considered for some regional development funding, to be challenged on what was the best investment for the district and to be asked what was the best opportunity to use this money.

As a farm consultant working for many years in the district from the Waikura Valley down to Wairoa he had seen how land use had changed.

“I feel we need to be careful that this place does not become a dumping ground for other people’s problems."

Carbon credits were a problem and it was not the district’s fault that more trees needed to be planted.

The council were the ones who should be driving the direction of this district not necessarily what suited the government.

He was extremely proud of the way farmers and the community had returned tree cover to the district after the scorched earth policy of the pioneers.

A lot of tree planting had ben done in the past 50 years and a lot of the erosion had been sorted. It was not the major issue it used to be.

It was time to move on from that guilt era. Many farms were a picture of best land use and a model of long term sustainability.

Local farmers among best in NZA lot of farmers were humble and did not blow their trumpet and it went under the radar that there were some very good farmers in this district who ranked among the best in the country.

Farmers had a hunger to learn. They were young, passionate and well trained. There were 25-year-olds managing huge million dollar businesses.

The council should be sitting down and talking to these young farmers.

“They should be the people and you guys at this table should be some of the ones driving this district,” he said.

The council needed to keep investing in rural services such as phone coverage and the internet. The big problem was roads.

“Our roads are pretty terrible really as you guys are well aware and it is a major challenge.”

Having good roads was just critical if families were going to be encouraged to get onto farms. If a road was dangerous it was hard to get families to live on it.

“We have made huge progress and created this great industry which suits this district, let’s capitalise on that,” he said.

Farmers were ticking all the environmental boxes. The biggest challenge on farms was too many trees and too big ones.

The greatest confidence the council could relate to was the land values. They had gone up because farmers were buying farm land. Family businesses were expanding and others were coming to this district.

In answer to a question from Bill Burdett on pine trees, he said he believed farming was more sustainable in the long term with appropriate planting and riparian strips.

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