Wednesday, 11 September 2019 07:55

Farmers left out of water talks

Written by  Jill Galloway
Feds environment spokesman Chris Allen. Feds environment spokesman Chris Allen.

Federated Farmers says it didn’t have a say in a new plan on water quality, even though farmers are expected to bear the brunt of the proposal.

Feds environment spokesman Chris Allen says he has no hot line to the Environment Ministry but was keen to talk while there was “clean air” before any announcement was made.

But he says Environment Minister David Parker has said announcements on tighter regulations of the agricultural sector are imminent.

The new national water regulations were due to be announced on September 5 (after Rural News went to press) with Parker fronting.  There were no pre-announcements.

“Rather than just coming up with one water quality system for all the whole country... we should be looking catchment by catchment.  Problems we might have here in Canterbury could be very different from issues in Waikato or Otago,” Allen told Rural News.

He says many regions have strong regulations on water and most farmers are doing a lot of stock exclusion from waterways, riparian plantings and changes to effluent disposal.

“Farmers are doing the right thing, but they need to know.  They don’t want to have to do the same thing three times to meet regulations.”

Allen believes farmers have moved a long way on water quality.

“We can’t blame our grandfathers for everything.  But we are looking at the environment through a new lens -- things such as water quality and climate change.  We have to think about the impact of those on all our farming systems.”

But Allen says while most rivers are moving in the right direction and getting cleaner, it will take time to put solutions in place.

“We can generally say farmers are doing the best they can. But we can’t deny we will need rules for some.”

With information on water quality coming from Wellington, some will see it as draconian, he says.

“If it was an easy fix for waterways we could do it easily, but it is not. It is hard to make rivers clear and clean.  We need to encourage farmers to do the right thing rather than be punitive.”

Allen says in dairy districts, water quality is an issue that should be built on the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“Farmers have already invested huge amounts of time and effort resulting in stock being excluded from waterways on 97.5% of dairy farms and more than 99.7% of regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now having bridges or culverts.”

Allen says they are seeing improvements in water quality as a result.

“For example, a recent regional council report shows water in Taranaki Rivers is showing long term improvements.”

He says any proposed changes should be underpinned by robust cost benefit analysis, rather than bald measurements of attributes such as nitrogen, turbidity, and phosphorous 

“The catchment based improvements should be geared to the values of the local community: can you swim in it, can you fish and are macro invertebrates thriving in it,” Allen said. 

“Farmers would also like to see consistency in approach across all sectors and appropriate recognition of where changes have been made -- whether by urban or rural sectors -- that are improving water quality.” 

More like this

Friends?

OPINION: After years of fighting over farming, freshwater and sustainability Federated Farmers and Fish & Game are trying to kiss and make up.

Slow learners?

Our old mate does wonder about the financial acumen of brain’s trust running Federated Farmers these days!

Don't run out of water

 Water is something we often take for granted but over recent years, through the droughts inflicted on us, I have seen many farms whose water systems have been lacking.

Nice speech, but...

OPINION: Publisher Stuff and lobby group Federated Farmers both like to preach about their respective high-minded virtues – Stuff, about “funding journalism”, Feds about “supporting our farming communities”.

Featured

Dairy conversion - Otaki style

Near the Horowhenua town of Otaki, dairy conversion has taken on a whole new meaning. It’s not a case of converting sheep and beef farms to dairy farms, rather it’s a case of just converting old dairy sheds to country style tourist accommodation. Reporter Peter Burke visited two such conversions by two pretty special and creative women.

 

Bringing flat batteries to life

Given the absence of power outlets in many remote buildings on New Zealand farms, there’s every chance of ending up with a flat battery when away from civilisation for an extended period.

Kuhn bolsters mower range

Kuhn has bolstered its mower conditioner range with the addition of two rear mounted/ vertical folding models with a 3.10m working width.

2020 property market closes on a healthy note

Data release by the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) shows there were 175 more farm sales for the three months ending December 2020 than for the same period in 2019.

National

Machinery & Products

Good growth year for Claas

While many sectors of the agricultural machinery were hit by the ravages of Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic did…

Green machine frugal on fuel

According to the industry respected independent DLG PowerMix test, John Deere appears to be the best choice of tractor for…

App takes pressure off

TRS Tyre & Wheel, owned by Trelleborg Wheel Systems, has introduced the TLC Plus App to the New Zealand market.

New MF 5S series arrives

Just before Christmas, Massey Ferguson quietly released details of the successor to its popular MF 5700S range in the shape…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Seriously?

Your old mate reckons the nomination of the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) management team as a finalists in…

Good riddance!

The Hound reckons 2021 is off to a rollicking start with news that professional whinger and anti-farming drone Martin Taylor…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter