Thursday, 19 November 2020 09:55

The results are in - now what?

Written by  Andrew Morrison, chairman of Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison Beef + Lamb New Zealand chairman Andrew Morrison

OPINION: Now voters have had their say, the incoming Government has some important decisions to make about farming in New Zealand.

Top of the list is how much further it can drive its regulatory agenda in light of the large volume of changes it has already made to environmental rules in the last couple of years.

It’s time to focus on fixing and implementing the new rules before introducing any new ones. There’s a lot of work to do to implement changes over the coming years under the essential freshwater rules and climate change commitments.

We’ve always supported the intent of the new rules but delivery is the crucial bit – it needs to be as easy as possible for farmers to do the right thing. Some of the current rules make it too hard because they’re impractical – we’re focused on trying to get them fixed so farmers can then focus on implementation. That will deliver the best environmental outcomes for New Zealand.

Now is not the time for even more new rules. There’s only so much change and cost a sector can handle at one time. With agriculture expected to play a major role in New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery we need to be careful about how hard we drive things.

It’s important to note that sheep and beef farmers are committed to protecting their environment. This includes an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining similar levels of production, major work on erosion control and preservation of biodiversity.

Farmers aren’t being unreasonable – the concerns they’ve raised about the new freshwater rules relate to specific provisions that are simply impractical on the ground. For example, many farmers across the country are unable to meet the sowing dates this year because of late rain and snow. It’s also unclear how the pugging rules will be enforced and there are major issues with the low slope map for stock exclusion.

We need to work with the Government to get these things right.

B+LNZ is engaging intensively in the Environment Southland-led process to review the winter grazing rules and will be advocating for our new farm plan approach to be accepted as a certified farm plan, as we strongly believe it’s critical the farm plan is not just a regulatory   tool.

Our industry is also committed to working constructively with the Government on climate change through He Waka Eke Noa and will be seeking recognition of the genuine sequestration happening on sheep and beef farms, as shown by recent research measuring the sequestration from the woody vegetation on these farms.

However, concerns remain about the major surge in conversion of productive land into carbon farms as a result of the Zero Carbon Bill and Emissions Trading Reform legislation introduced in the last two years, and about the proposed new regulations around biodiversity. 

The last Government acknowledged a need to restrict the amount of pastoral farmland being converted into exotic forestry for the purposes of carbon farming, before too much damage is done to our rural communities and the long-term viability of our sector and economy. We’ll be looking to hold them to this promise.

We’ll also be asking the Government to maintain the pause on the proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity. It’s important to give farmers and industry a chance to work their way through the latest environmental rules before new ones are introduced.

Our belief that the Government should be taking a holistic view of environmental policy, developing policies in isolation won’t get the desired environmental outcomes. An integrated approach is best, considering climate change, biodiversity, soils and water together.

Environmental policy is one of B+LNZ’s top priorities and we’ll continue working hard on farmers’ behalf for sensible policy outcomes from the new Government.

We’ll then be focused on supporting farmers with the tools they need when they need them.

More like this

Bad look

OPINION: Your canine crusader reckons something smells really iffy about the move by Beef+Lamb NZ directors to sack the independent committee set up to decide their remuneration and then award themselves a big pay rise this coming year.

Chair defends process

Andrew Morrison, New Zealand Meat Board chair, has defended the move by Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) directors to sack an independent committee established to set director remuneration.

Farmers will get final say

Andrew Morrison says farmers will ultimately have the final say on whether or not a controversial move to increase both Beef+Lamb NZ (BLNZ) and New Zealand Meat Board (NZMB) director fees goes ahead.

Board grilling!

Beef+Lamb NZ directors can expect a grilling at its annual meeting in Invercargill on March 17 over their decision to award themselves a hefty pay rise.

National

MPI lost touch

MPI boss Ray Smith says with the advent of the climate change proposals and the new essential fresh water regulations,…

Farmer fined for bovis breach

Failure to follow directives not to move stock because of the Mycoplasma bovis threat and breaking NAIT rules has landed…

$8 on the cards?

An $8-plus milk price for Fonterra farmers this season could be on the cards.

Machinery & Products

Real handy in all situations

Listening to customers across all sectors of agriculture helps the Handypiece team design and engineer options to make its unit…

Film binding now available

The Kuhn VBP 3100 series variable chamber baler-wrapper combination can now be equipped with the patented Kuhn Twin-reel film binding…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Bad look

OPINION: Your canine crusader reckons something smells really iffy about the move by Beef+Lamb NZ directors to sack the independent…

Out of touch

OPINION: This old mutt has always thought the people who inhabit the nation’s parliament are a weird bunch with very…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter