The government’s new freshwater laws, signed off this week, have the potential to create significant unnecessary costs for ratepayers, farmers and entire communities, Federated Farmers says.
If elected next term, Labour says it will require resource consent for any conversion of highly productive farmland (Land Use Capability Classes 1-5) into forestry.
Federated Farmers Meat & Wool chairperson William Beetham says the announcement is a step in the right direction.
"We’re really pleased there is now acknowledgement there’s an issue with large-scale exotic plantings - particularly those grown just for carbon credits - swallowing up land used for food and fibre production,
“The result of this trend is loss of export income, employment and the undermining of rural district social cohesion."
However, Federated Farmers is still questioning whether what’s proposed will stop sheep and beef farms on the East Coast, which are more likely to be LUC 6 or higher, being taken over by blanket afforestation, says Beetham.
"We’d much rather Labour had taken on board the strong opposition on the topic expressed for many months now by the wider agricultural sector and some environmental NGOs, and not rushed through policy changes that have led to this issue.
"But it’s a welcome sign Labour is demonstrating a growing commitment to protecting productive farmland for our vital food and fibre industry, and backing their own calls for the ‘right tree in the right place’."
Federated Farmers says it would be happy to work with industry and government to “thrash out” effective and practical settings.