Wednesday, 17 March 2021 09:55

Editorial: What's the delay?

Written by  Staff Reporters
The Southland Advisory Group advice was presented to Environment Minister David Parker (pictured) and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor in December 2020. The Southland Advisory Group advice was presented to Environment Minister David Parker (pictured) and Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor in December 2020.

OPINION: The Government's delay in responding to an advisory group’s recommendations to improve winter grazing rules in Southland and North Otago is puzzling.

In December, the Southland Advisory Group recommended the Government make several changes to rules under the Government’s National Environmental Standard for Freshwater, including amendments to pugging and resowing dates.

Almost three months on, farmers are still awaiting a response. With winter approaching, farmers need certainty.

The Southland Advisory Group, consisting of two farmers and representatives from DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb New Zealand, Environment Southland, Federated Farmers and Fish & Game was formed after farmers expressed concerns about their ability to implement the regulations, wanting fair and pragmatic solutions.

The group has made recommendations that farmers believe make the regulations more practical, while not diminishing the protection they give to waterways.

The recommendations seem fair. The group wants the resowing date conditions deleted. Under the new rules, all sowing of winter crops in Southland and Otago need to be completed by November 1.

A slope rule banning winter grazing on slopes greater than 10 degrees should be amended to allow intensive winter grazing on slopes of 15 degrees or less, the group says.

New intensive winter grazing regulations come into force in May 2021, as part of the Essential Freshwater package, but many farmers have called them impractical, and there have been protests and calls for the rules to be boycotted.

Farmers want some certainty around these unfair provisions in the Government’s freshwater reforms package.

Winter will soon arrive and nobody wants to see the negative attention that winter grazing attracted last year.

A photo of cow bogged in mud, that some animal right lobbyists love clicking, doesn’t tell the whole story.

However, farmers agree that the industry continues to make every effort to avoid negative public perception, and to minimise negative impacts on the environment and animal welfare.

They have done their part, expressing concerns about their ability to implement the regulations, wanting fair and pragmatic solutions.

They engaged in good faith and now want the Government 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.

National

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