Agriculture depends on towns and cities for transport, process, promotion and selling farmers' produce on the markets while cities and towns benefit from the business these commodities create.

However, there are negative forces in urban expansion and population growth which cause concerns for agriculture and the wider rural communities.

Tauranga faces a shortage of about 1000 new dwellings before mid-2022 and 5000 in the next four to 10 years, according to a review looking at available land for housing development in the short and medium terms.

In response, the city council and other key partners intend to urgently increase the supply of developable land.


This will mean a demand for rural land and added strain on resources which needs to be carefully managed.

Conversion of agriculture land to urban uses has its ramifications. Farmland can be relatively easy to change to urban, with a profit in there for the developer. I cannot recall anywhere where urban sprawl reverted to farmland.

Turning to Auckland, the city needs more and more land for housing, which is in competition with the vegetable production sector, which requires access to the limited suitable soil in the frost-free areas like Pukekohe and Pukekawa hills.

The urban developers looking for land have put strain on commercial vegetable producers' capability to provide vegetables to New Zealand. Similar expansions near Tauranga, Te Puke and other urban areas can mean that prime farming land is lost.

More people also means a greater need for natural resources. District and city councils are looking further and further afield to secure water resources for their growing urban populations.

If there is enough of the resources available for all users then there is no problem, but this is often not the case. What happens when a resource, like water, is fully allocated is that existing users like agriculture and horticulture are asked to decrease their use of water.

The impact of urban expansion should not only consider the need for new dwellings, but also the impact on agriculture and long-term consequences.

Martin Meier is a Federated Farmers Senior Policy Advisor