Farmers are warning that some of the proposals in the Climate Change Commission draft advice to the Government will result in financial losses for many.
In December, the Southland Advisory Group recommended the Government make several changes to rules under the Government’s National Environmental Standard for Freshwater. These included amendments to pugging and resowing dates.
“DairyNZ supports the group’s recommendations to the Government that aim to ensure winter grazing rules are clear and achievable for farmers, and lead to better environmental outcomes,” said DairyNZ chair, Jim van der Poel.
“The advisory group and the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry for Primary Industries have been working positively together to make the regulations practical and effective, and we are keen to see a decision announced on the outcome.”
Van der Poel says it was pleasing for the group to host Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in Southland last year.
“It was appreciated they took the time to understand the issues on the ground,” he says.
The Southland Advisory Group is made up of two farmers and representatives from DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Environment Southland, Federated Farmers and Fish and Game. It was formed after farmers expressed their concerns about their ability to implement the regulations, wanting fair and pragmatic solutions.
“We have engaged in good faith and now we are calling on them to respond in kind with a fair and timely outcome for farmers, to provide certainty and enable them to start working to meet the new requirements,” says van der Poel.
Southland dairy farmer and advisory group member Paul Turner said the group had been working well together and having productive discussions on behalf of all farmers.
“It is important for farmers to have clarity around what they are doing for next season and beyond in terms of wintering practices, investment decisions and logistics on the farm. People are holding back because they are unsure what to do from a regulatory perspective,” says Turner.
“People are feeling positive about the proposed changes. Replacing sowing date and pugging recommendations with protecting critical source areas will ensure better outcomes for waterway health.
“The ability to use your farm environment plan’s wintering module also enables farm-specific mitigations, which in turn will lead to better freshwater outcomes.”
Advisory Group Summary
The group agrees farm plans are the future for managing freshwater and while these are developed and rolled out, the group recommends work commence immediately on a step that can be used in the interim - an Intensive Winter Grazing module.
This would enable farmers to identify the specific risks on their property and identify the good management practices they implement to mitigate the impacts on freshwater.
The pugging and resowing date conditions should be removed. The group have also recommended a new measure which focuses on the management of critical source areas. Pugging and resowing rules would lead to perverse outcomes, but managing critical source areas would lead to improved environmental health.
The recommendation suggests these areas are protected within intensively grazed areas through buffers.