Central Hawke's Bay farmer Jeremy Rookes says swathes of East Coast sheep and beef land is being lost to carbon farming and he should know as he's just sold his own farm.
Although he would prefer to sell to a farmer, Rookes said the best option for his family was to let the "forestry guys" have the first look.
"Morally not ideal but financially it's been a good decision," he told The Country's Jamie Mackay.
Rookes is not the only one. He just has to stand on his farm to see his neighbours' properties being sold to forestry.
"There's 140 hectares come up today – that's up for tender – so that will go to trees.
There's two properties I'm looking at, another 1300 hectares that have gone.
There's one in Elsthorpe's just gone and obviously Wairoa and up the East Coast."
Although he admitted "money talks" Rookes blamed the sales on Government policy.
He said the land price per hectare had gone up nearly 30 per cent since he sold his farm just over two months ago.
"That's purely because of that latest carbon auction.
"The reality is that Government policy is dictating what's happening."
He said the recommendations from Climate Change Minister James Shaw's recent trip to COP26 highlighted the "absurdity" of the situation.
"He comes back saying we have to buy foreign carbon credits to offset our emissions when we're selling our land to foreigners to offset their emissions and we're going to pay them for it. It's absolutely nuts."
Rookes said the Government needed to recognise that sheep and beef farming was "carbon neutral at worst" and pull back.
"Over 90 per cent of the East Coast farms for sale this spring and autumn will go into pine trees," he claimed.
Rookes and his family are moving back to Canterbury to continue farming.
He was concerned for the future of farming in the North Island.
"We want to stay in farming but boy I shudder, particularly for the North Island, because we really like this farm but the reality is we knew … the forestry guys were going to come over the farm regardless of whether we tarted it up or not.
"So that was our conscious decision to go well, let's get them in first. If they want to buy it they do, if they don't they don't and then in the spring we would have gone on and just offered it to farmers."