Agricultural production down as forestry takes over

Dairy cattle numbers in the North Island were down from 4.05 million in 2016 to 3.8 million in 2018.

Data released by the the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 56 fewer farm sales in New Zealand (-13.4%) for the three months ended April 2019, compared to the same time last year.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to April 2019 was $22,624, compared to $27,309 recorded for three months ended April 2018 (-17.2%).

In the year ending April 2019, 1,443 farms were sold which is 1.7 per cent fewer than were sold in the year to April 2018.

In terms of property types, the figures show 31.3 per cent fewer dairy farms sold and 9.3 per cent fewer finishing farms. However, 22 per cent more grazing farms were sold, and 5.7 per cent more arable farms sold in that year.

REINZ rural spokesman Brian Peacocke says the data reflects a continuation of a trend seen in sales volumes.

“Compared to the equivalent period in 2018, sales volumes for dairy and finishing farms are well down, although arable and horticulture properties are holding par.”

In Northland there has been steady enquiries for cattle farms. Though there is a short supply of both beef and dairy farms.

There has also been strong enquiry from the forestry sector which is competing effectively with traditional purchasers of sheep and beef farms, fuelled in part by carbon credits being deemed more attractive than the timber. Overseas Investment Office consents also appear more readily obtainable for forestry than other forms of land use.

Meanwhile, the latest agricultural production figures released by Statistics New Zealand in May showed that in the year ending June 2018, there was a 474 per cent increase in hectares of forestry planted in Northland, and a 38 per cent increase in hectares harvested.

Livestock numbers were down in Northland by 14.8 per cent to 280,000, and in Auckland by 20 per cent to 202,000.

The figures show downward pressure on most livestock numbers in both regions, including sheep, lamb, dairy, beef cattle and deer. However, pig numbers increased by 22 per cent in Auckland.

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