Friday, 11 September 2020 09:05

Rethink needed — Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
Environment Minister David Parker. Environment Minister David Parker.

OPINION: Environment minister David Parker has had a long and tempestuous relationship with the farming sector.

His latest fight with farmers has come about due to the new freshwater regulations that recently came into force. Especially aggrieved are southern farmers who have pointed out that many of the new rules concerning winter cropping were “almost unfarmable” in the south.

Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young even called on farmers in the region to ignore the new requirements on getting resource consents for winter grazing until there was more practicality concerning it. This got Parker’s goat and he came out of hiding to decry Young’s call saying that “no one was above the law”. 

Late last month, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced some very minor tweaks to the regulations around pugging – but these minimal changes have not placated farmer concerns.

The new rules also dictate that crops have to be re-sown by October 1 or November 1 in Southland and Otago. However, while these rules may sound good on paper, any farmer can tell you that it’s the weather that dictates when paddocks can be replanted not a bureaucratic decree.

Another bugbear in the new regulations are the areas of a farm now defined as ‘low slope’, with the new rules only allowing winter crops to be grown on a slope of less than 10 degrees – with all others with greater slopes requiring a resource consent.

As North Otago farmer Jane Smith says this means that ‘low slope farmland’ has grown from 5.8 million hectares in 2019 to 9.6 million hectares today…“by the simple stroke of a pen”.

Smith accuses Parker and his officials of not putting enough research, consultation and pragmatism into developing such overarching regulations that will define rural livelihoods. 

The ‘consultation’ around the freshwater reforms was rushed and mainly confined to certain farming groups who were too afraid – or unwilling – to push back. Hence, the unpractical rules we currently have.

It is time now for all involved, farmers, bureaucrats and ministers to put their egos and disputes aside and undertake a serious and practical rethink of these regulations. 

Everyone wants higher water quality and better farming practices. But this cannot be achieved if the rules are totally unpractical – as many of these now are.

More like this

Nervous Nellie's

OPINION: The Hound understands that there is a fair bit of consternation and nerves among the big farming lobby groups - namely Feds, Beef+Lamb and DairyNZ - that they are 'losing the room' in terms of farmer support.

Farmers urged to act

As the autumn dry begins to really bite along most of the South Island’s east coast, farmers are being urged to act now to mitigate the impacts heading into winter.

Farmers weighing up drought options

Dairy farmers in the Hawke's Bay are once again being hit by drought with Matt Wade of Federated Farmers saying it's worse than last year.

VLG receivership causes dismay

Canterbury farmer and former Federated Farmers dairy leader Willy Leferink says farmers shouldn't let banks run their businesses.

National

Health Hub returns

The Health and Wellbeing Hub is back at Fieldays this year, focusing on the importance of rural health and providing…

Chair bows out

The man who has led the Ahuwhenua competition for the past 15 years is bowing out.

Trees and drought slow spread

Top dressing today is pretty much at the same level as it was pre-Covid, according to the Agricultural Aviation Association…

Machinery & Products

Lady muck really does suck

As anyone will attest to – if they’re married to someone with horses, have kids with ponies or are foolish…

The perfect workhorse

Hastings-based Kleer Contractors provides 24-hour machine work and labour for a local food processing plant.

All-new Claas Disco arrives

The Claas Harvest Centre display at Mystery Creek will include the public debut of the all-new CLAAS Disco 10 series…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Animal crackers!

This old mutt suggests that if you ever wondered to understand just how crazy the nutjobs who make up animal…

Dreaming!

OPINION: Your canine crusader reckons the recent immigration reset by the Government, restricting the inflow of 'low-skilled' migrant workers into…

» Connect with Rural News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter