In March 2021, the Government put the implementation of the intensive winter grazing (IWG) rules on hold after hearing significant concerns from industry on the practicality and workability of the rules. The pause was conditional on increased monitoring and performance to ensure measurable improvements in relation to practice change and environmental outcomes, including documented plans.
Regional councils have recently released a report on how well farmers are adopting best management practice for these activities.
The report shows that efforts have been ramped up across the country. It confirms that farmers and councils are working together to improve their methods of winter grazing with help from industry organisations such as B+LNZ and DairyNZ.
The report found that during 2020 and 2021, there have been over 150 events held by primary industry organisations focusing on IWG. Together, B+LNZ and DairyNZ held 96 events in 2020 and a further 63 events this year on implementing good IWG management practices.
B+LNZ’s IWG efforts
One key resource we delivered this year is the new forage cropping chapter under the B+LNZ Farm Plan that was launched in March. The chapter was based on the Southland winter grazing advisory group recommendations, which we were heavily involved in, and is consistent with the IWG module developed in April by the Ministry of Primary Industries and Ministry for the Environment.
We also updated all of our resources to reflect the new chapter, and the webpage where these live has received 13,000 views alone. Resources relating to IWG have been downloaded on the B+LNZ Knowledge Hub nearly 3000 times – an almost five-fold increase since 2019 and 2020. The new Paddock Plan template which is in the forage cropping chapter has been downloaded 700 times. We have also shared the forage cropping chapter with over 100 key agriprofessionals for them to undertake with farmers.
With help from 13 other sponsors, including DairyNZ and regional councils, B+LNZ have reached an audience of 1.5 million people through media campaigns.
We are currently working on new events and a schedule for engaging with farmers from September onwards as they start to think about crop and paddock selection for 2022, and we expect that engagement with the IWG module will continue to increase.
The data indicates that there has been a significant increase in engagement – however, regional councils and industry organisations such as B+LNZ recognise that ongoing support for farmers to adopt best management practices around animal welfare and environmental outcomes is essential.
While we were successful in getting the implementation of the IWG rules postponed, we’re still working hard to make sure that commonsense approaches prevail. We’ll provide further updates as soon as we can.