Proven and laden with opportunity

As the world tries to regain an even keel in the wake of the pandemic, it’s “steady as she goes” in New Zealand’s rural sector.

Welcome to the autumn 2021 edition of Bayleys’ Country

By way of introduction, I recently joined Bayleys as national director rural, following an extensive career in agri-business and advisory, most recently as director agri value chain at BNZ.

Born and bred on a deer and sheep farm in the central North Island, I have had hands-on insight into rural life with its climatic and economic ups-and-downs, seven-days-a-week graft, staffing challenges, and seasonal cashflows – along with deer fencing every school and university holidays in my earlier years.

I have also been very fortunate to experience what it takes for New Zealand producers to thrive in what is often, a very challenging environment.

As part of New Zealand’s leading rural agency, Bayleys, I am constantly reminded of the stellar part the rural sector plays in New Zealand’s economy and the importance of fostering on-going relationships with our clients.

With everything that played out in 2020 and the ongoing challenges the country faces, ensuring our rural economy remains strong goes without saying.

Healthy prices being attained across the primary sector for red meat, milk, horticultural produce and wine, reflects the intrinsic value we – and the rest of the world – place on these products.

It also underpins the underlying productive and land value of a rural property investment and although some of the property prices attained across the rural sub-sectors recently have come off their peaks, the opportunity inherent in these properties is not lost on purchasers.

As a long-term asset class, productive rural land is increasingly finding favour with investors who are faced with diminishing bank deposit rates and finding that yields on rural property are becoming more appealing as other sectors soften.

However, while the fundamentals of the rural market are demonstrably strong and the latest Federated Farmers farm confidence survey shows farmer sentiment is relatively high, there remains ongoing concerns around regulatory constraints and capital limitations in the broader sector.

Again, this comes back to building trusted relationships, being transparent, and for all of us to be mindful of the responsibilities that come with being kaitiaki – or guardians – of the land, regardless of where we live.

Throughout these disruptive times, we’ve learned the importance of having a resilient food production and supply chain, and the value of our primary sector. New Zealand has maintained good relationships with all its trading partners, recently upgrading the Free Trade Agreement with China and our trade officials continuing talks with European counterparts for an equitable and worthwhile Free Trade Agreement.

It’s timely to reflect on the fact that New Zealand farmers are among the most efficient producers of food and fibre in the world, and while they continue to face regulatory scrutiny, they are not the only ones being called to account.

The Climate Change Commission has just released its draft recommendations, and its suggested cuts to livestock numbers will pose a challenge to the sector as farmers are already juggling profitability with compliance issues. However, all industries need to play a part if New Zealand is to meet its commitment.

Given the pandemic disruptor will likely be with us for at least the next 12 months while vaccine programmes are rolled out, it does create further opportunity for the rural sector to leverage off its strengths to meet market demands for fresh and nutritious food supplies.

Meanwhile in the lifestyle property market, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand data showed 9,037 lifestyle properties were sold in the year to January 2021, which was 1,888 (26.4 percent) more than the number sold in the year to January 2020, and with a total value of $8.39 billion.

Around New Zealand, the Bayleys team continues to field strong enquiry for both established and bare land lifestyle properties – particularly those close to the main centres – with the appeal of space and distance that a lifestyle property can offer, heightened in these uncertain times.

In this edition of Country, we look at the agritech sector and its role on-farm and as an export earner in itself, and delve deeper into the world of fibre – exploring insights of the wool and hemp industries.

We also chat to three lifestyle block owners who are using social media platform Instagram to document the trials and many tribulations of life with acreage.

It is an exciting time to be involved in the rural sector, and I’m look forward to meeting some of you as I work my way around the country – as alert levels allow it.

It is a pleasure to present some exceptional opportunities in this autumn edition of Country, and trust that you will find something between these pages to spark some interest.


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