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Farmers urge Government to encourage tree planting, 1916

The 1916 Farmers' Union Conference were aware that supplies of timber were dwindling, much of the native forest cover having by this time been removed. They urged the Ministry of Lands to provide instruction to farmers in how to go about planting pine forests and to subsidise the cost of pine seeds.

The Evening Post, 31 May 1916, reports:


"By all calculations the country will, in 20 years, be bared of all marketable timbers," said Mr. A. J. Birch at the Farmers' Union Conference at Levin yesterday, and he urged that better provision, should be made by the increased planting of trees. The matter was a very serious one, and worthy, of the utmost consideration.

Mr. Birch's views were expressed in the following remit, put forward on behalf of the executive : —
"That the conference urge upon the Minister of Lands the importance of continuing forestry operations in suitable districts in the Dominion, and that, in order to encourage. private planting, suitable men be appointed to visit and instruct farmers in planting, and also provide pine seeds at a reasonable, cost." 
Mr. Perry (Masterton) said the matter was one that should interest farmers more than it had. done in the past.

Mr. Matheson (Rongomai) drew attention to the fact that the Government had already done a great deal, but he would like to see much more development after the war. He looked forward to. the time when there would be a forestry department providing much revenue, and he moved as an amendment that
the great importance of developing forestry operations immediately after the war should be urged upon the Minister of Lands.
The amendment was lost on the casting vote of the President, and the remit carried.

On behalf of Palmerston North, Mr. J. A. O'Leary moved :
"That tree-planting. by farmers be encouraged by the Government remitting certain taxation on land so planted." 
Mr. G. L. Marshall (Marton) said it would be useless and inadvisable to ask the Government to remit any taxation during the war.

Other speakers thought that the question could very well be held over until some future time.

Mr. H. A. Nevins (Tinui) opposed the motion, stating that the farmer was already thoroughly well compensated in the way of improvements as the result of planting trees on his property.

Mr. Matheson also stated that he would vote against the proposal. Farmers should certainly be encouraged to plant, but they should be encouraged by being interested in the welfare of their grandchildren.

Mr. Lynch (Paraparaumu) said that the farmer who did not plant trees on his own property showed a short-sighted policy. Farmers would obtain an ample return for any money spent on planting trees.

The motion was lost.


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