Tuesday, 08 September 2020 05:55

Govt ignored advice

Written by  Peter Burke
Beef+Lamb NZ CEO Sam McIvor. Beef+Lamb NZ CEO Sam McIvor.

Despite Government and officials ignoring farmer and industry advice, farmers are determined to do the right thing for water quality, says Beef+Lamb NZ CEO Sam McIvor.

His comments come amidst a standoff between farmers and the Government over the new water regulations, which were just recently passed into law. The regulations include a requirement for farmers to apply for a resource consent if they can’t meet the rules.

Farmers, in turn, have said they will ignore the resource consent requirement. There is also concerns about strict rules which state when farmers must plant winter crops. Government has made some minor changes, but farmers have rubbished these changes saying they don’t address their main concerns.

McIvor told Rural News there are some classic things wrong about the new rules on winter grazing, which make them unworkable on a farm. He says farmers want to do the right thing but can only do so if they are supported by good legislation and regulations.

McIvor says the way the rules are written they won’t deliver the benefits that are required.

“I call on both central and regional government to look at how farmers pragmatically and practically will deliver the benefits on the ground that make sense for them to make the changes.”

Dr David Burger, DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for responsible dairying says his organisation told the Government, during last year’s consultation on the plans, that such things as the pugging rule were unworkable and difficult to meet in regions such as Southland.

“We also said that the requirement to plant winter crops by 1 November would produce perverse outcomes and would also be unworkable.”

But Burger told Rural News this advice, which was consistent with other primary industry organisations, was ignored by the Government.

He says DairyNZ has long advocated for good farming practices around winter grazing but says this is best achieved by each farmer producing their own environmental farm plan that includes a tailored wintering plan.

DairyNZ also opposed the tight restrictions on cropping areas – both in terms of the slope of land and amount of land that can be cropped.

Burger says the arbitrary rule in the new suite of regulations, which requires crops to be in the ground by November 1 is simply not practical in Southland.

He says in November the ground is still often very wet as it was last year.

He says DairyNZ advocated for the farm environmental plan approach, which sets out the risks and actually addresses those risks much more effectively on a farm by farm basis.

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