Delaying the introduction of new water reforms was not an option according to the two cabinet Ministers directly involved – Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
At Fieldays, last week, O’Connor joined Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to detail the $229 million Sustainable Land Use Budget package.
“More than $35m will go towards providing practical advice, information and tools for farmers and growers to improve their operations on the ground,” O’Connor said. “This funding goes hand in hand with a regulatory package designed to improve the environmental outcomes of land use.
“An important part of this is extension – pulling together clusters of farmers and growers in different regions to share information, insights and advice with like minded people who understand local issues.”
O’Connor says he want two extension clusters under way by September, with another rollout later in 2019 and in 2020.
“Over the next four years, up to 2200 farmers in targeted catchments and regions will have the direct on-the-ground support needed to lift their environmental sustainability and boost their bottom line.”
Some $12m has been committed to “support” Māori landowners and agribusinesses to get “greater value and sustainability from their land”. Meanwhile, $43m more is assigned to upgrade Overseer.
“The funding will help to improve the accuracy of Overseer’s modelled estimates and boost the range of farm systems and conditions it models,” O’Connor claims.
This and initiatives already under way will help develop integrated farm plans to make life easier for farmers.
“We want to develop a more streamlined approach for farm planning, incorporating biosecurity, animal welfare, food safety and health and safety.”