Plan to engage | Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Plan to engage

Environment Southland has released its draft Water and Land Plan. Beef + Lamb New Zealand Director Andrew Morrison urges all Southland sheep and beef farmers to engage in the consultation process and ensure they have their voices heard.
Thursday, 21 July 2016

Submissions open on draft Water and Land Plan

There are few more emotive issues than water quality – and yet it is possibly the one issue we can all agree on.

Everyone wants clean, fresh water for ourselves, for future generations and our environment. Environment Southland has, through its Water and Land Plan, set out to provide a framework through which our water resources will be protected. Having developed a draft plan, the regional council is now going through a round of consultations, and I cannot stress enough how important it is for us all, as individuals, to engage in that process.

The Water and Land Plan will affect us all – as it should. It is beholden on everyone within our community to do their bit towards protecting our land and water – we just need to ensure we can achieve the outcomes we want while retaining the ability to run our businesses economically and efficiently.

Individual voices need to be heard

It is easy to sit back and assume that our respective farming industries will represent our best interests – and Beef + Lamb New Zealand is certainly doing that – but individual submissions are far more powerful. They really give our regulators a sense of how any legislation could impact on family farming businesses.

The process is there for reason. It ensures regulations are not being foisted on any one sector without giving them the opportunity to have their say. I urge all farmers to take the time to understand how the proposed regulations will affect them and make submissions on anything they are not happy with. 

Submissions close on Monday, 1 August. The key points of the plan are summarised on the Southern South Island page on the B+LNZ website, along with a submission template. B+LNZ is also holding a meeting in Gore on 25 July to help farmers with the submission process.

Brexit uncertainty

Further afield, the Brexit decision certainly surprised many of us. This country’s links to Britain go back two centuries to when the Mother Country took all the meat and wool this colony could produce.

I remember, as a boy, when Britain joined the European Economic Union. There were predictions this country would be cast into an economic wilderness. Obviously that didn’t happen and in typical Kiwi fashion, we adapted by finding alternative markets while securing an EU quota.

Last year, over $2 billion of red meat and wool exports were sent to the EU (including the UK), which represents half of NZ’s global sheepmeat exports by volume. We cannot predict with any certainty how Brexit will affect this market. What I do know is that there will be a lot of talented people working on behalf of sheep and beef farmers to retain market access – and, under World Trade Organisation rules, access into the EU and UK cannot be eroded as a result of Brexit – but only time will tell how this will play out.

To my mind, Brexit is rather like the divorce of good friends. You want to be supportive without taking sides – and ultimately you want whatever is best for everyone. Change can be challenging, but it can also open you up for new opportunities, which could well be the case here.

Andrew Morrison is Beef + Lamb New Zealand's Southern South Island farmer director. You can contact him on 027 6644 620.