GOOD PROFIT opportunities, fewer regulations and a government that is sympathetic to farming are some of the incentives that have persuaded large numbers of UK producers to relocate to New Zealand, says Simon Anderson from NZ property company Bayleys Real Estate. The strong UK pound has been another main driver, along with low fuel prices, a temperate climate and a good health and education system, he adds.

“For the past five years, the number of farmers emigrating to New Zealand has been steadily increasing. The two countries have a lot in common – we speak the same language, drive on the same side of the road and have similar values,” said Mr Anderson.

Most owner-occupiers will qualify to enter New Zealand on the points system basis adopted by the immigration authorities, as long as they have sufficient capital to invest, he advises

“The NZ government is actively looking for agricultural investment from abroad,” says Mr Anderson. “Farms are producing consistent profits, and markets like China are opening up to us. However, the average age of our producers is rising.”

A dairy farm with a top 10% performance rating would reckon to show an annual surplus of about 160,000, he points out.

“One 60ha (150-acre) dairy farm we have on the market is expected to sell for around 740,000, complete with a main farmhouse and workers” accommodation. A farm this size would support about 200 cows, grazing all year round. Yields are slightly lower than the UK at about 6000kg, but we tend to use fewer inputs.

“A large, well-run sheep farm can also achieve good returns, with an expected surplus of around 100,000. In the arable sector, a producer with 1m to spend on a 202ha (500-acre) holding can achieve a 9.8% return on capital investment. Plus there are opportunities to grow specialist crops like kiwi fruit in some parts of the country.”

SUBSIDIES REMOVED

Farming went into a period of serious hardship after New Zealand subsidies were removed in the 1980s. However, many businesses recovered and became more robust as a result, stresses Mr Anderson.

“After six or seven years, agriculture emerged much stronger, with farmers and the government all working in the same direction.

“There have been some minor changes proposed recently, for example public access is to be increased and some conservation areas will need a management plan. But in general we have much less red tape to contend with.”

Scottish beef and sheep producer Alastair Gibb has recently sold his share of the 3237ha (8000-acre) family farm in Angus, and plans to relocate this spring with his wife, Sarah and their young daughter.

“Escaping the subsidy regime and improving our lifestyle are the two main goals. I have spent two years working on New Zealand farms, and found them to be very efficient, with lower inputs and higher profitability.

“We have decided we want to settle somewhere on the east coast of the North Island, because it has a good climate for stock health.”