Federated Farmers is hoping for changes to the Department of Conservation's (DoC) high country grazing rules in the aftermath of two recent big wildfires in the Mackenzie Basin.
The unemployment rate in Ashburton district is “miniscule” because the district benefits hugely from irrigation, said Ashburton-based Chris Allen, Federated Farmers spokesman on the environment (water and biodiversity).
Allen said Labour’s proposed water tax or royalty – mooted at 2 cents/m3 -- could cost individual irrigated farms $10,000 to $35,000 each. That would be a lot of money not going back into the local economy, where each dollar spent recycled about six-fold, he said.
Allen said 85% of the national water tax take would be from the East Coast of the South Island, 25% of it from Mid-Canterbury alone.
Echoing an Irrigation NZ analysis which showed that the bulk of the tax would be gathered in regions where the rivers were already cleanest, Allen said the most polluted rivers are nowhere near where irrigation is happening.
“It’s not going to fix any river that’s not being worked on already,” he said.