The joint letter, sent to ministers James Shaw, Damien O’Connor and David Parker, reiterates the primary sector groups’ concerns over the timing of the Indigenous Biodiversity National Policy Statement (NPS) exposure draft, with farmers already inundated by water, climate and conservation policy changes.
The indigenous biodiversity proposals are of particular relevance to sheep, beef and deer farmers, given the significant stands of native vegetation on farms throughout the country – some 2.8 million hectares according to research by the University of Canterbury.
B+LNZ, along with other primary sector group's, successfully convinced the Government to pause the initial biodiversity reforms in 2020 and will be working to do so again.
“We’re requesting that the process be paused again, or at the very least, for the consultation period to be extended from six to 10 weeks,” says B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor.
“Farmers are already feeling overwhelmed with the environment-related policy changes that have come their way, and the latest proposals came just one day after significant He Waka Eke Noa announcements on 8 June.
“This is on top of labour shortages, high on-farm inflation and managing COVID-19, so it’s frustrating that the Government expects farmers to grapple with even more environment legislation.
“These issues are having real effects across the agriculture sector and that’s why it’s important to us to work with other sector groups.
“The current six-week consultation period isn’t sufficient for such a significant piece of policy, either.
“If the Government doesn’t put a pause on the latest proposals, they need to provide more time to allow for a full analysis and response to the exposure draft. We’ve strongly urged that the timeframes for submissions are extended without delay.”
McIvor says farmers are passionate about biodiversity and are actively protecting and restoring the indigenous habitats they have on their farms, but policies should ensure that biodiversity is an asset.
“B+LNZ, Fed Farmers and DINZ will continue to advocate for farmers to be able to integrate indigenous biodiversity within their pastoral systems, while being recognised for the benefits existing habitats provide, and rewarded for their work to protect native species.”
For media queries, please contact B+LNZ’s James Ford on 027 235 9806.