New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says foreign-owned banks are pushing for a Chinese takeover of giant meat co-operative Silver Fern Farms.
The country's biggest meat processor is owned by New Zealand farmers and Mr Peters is vowing to keep it in the Kiwi hands.
SFF suspended trading in its shares in late July, with investment bank Goldman Sachs trying to raise $100 million of new capital to repay more bank debt after SFF reduced it by about $100 million over the past year.
Mr Peters issued a statement yesterday evening, suggesting the new capital will come from China.
He said SFF's farmer owners had done the hard yards to have debt tracking down.
"Just when it is, the Chinese want at least a $100 million interest in it," he said.
"That will just be the start, as we all know. Why has the co-op not reached out to people who own it? Instead, the board is putting a financial gun to its farmer-owners and effectively saying, `sign or else'.
"But in reality it is the foreign-owned banks' interest in Silver Fern Farms that is behind this.
"They do not care one iota about New Zealand or New Zealand farmers. The banks want their cash, the Chinese have it, and they are pushing Silver Fern Farms to get at it."
Mr Peters said the timing of the move, which he called "nothing short of economic treason", could not be worse with lambing under way so farmer attention was elsewhere.