Though there were a mix of messages from participants, and some placards we do not agree with, there was an overarching theme that the scale, pace and style of change is concerning and, in some cases, overwhelming farmers. We too share these concerns.
We have constantly raised these concerns with the Government, and we would emphasise that farmers do not take to the streets in this manner lightly. The fact that they did and, in such numbers, reinforces what we have been saying – we need better approaches.
We believe that the majority of farmers are on board with making changes, but the pace and manner in which the Government has sought to address water, climate change and biodiversity has led to impractical rules being put forward in some areas.
While the Government has recently sought to amend some of these (such as the winter grazing rules and low slope map) the process has been very drawn out and the ongoing uncertainty is creating angst for all concerned.
As many of you know, B+LNZ has been advocating on behalf of farmers to ensure the regulations deliver the right outcomes for rural communities. We have been working closely with other industry organisations, and we have heard the feedback that you want us all to redouble our efforts to ensure a coordinated and consistent agricultural voice.
We will collectively be meeting with Groundswell leaders in the coming weeks to continue the dialogue around the areas of concern they have raised, to ensure clarity around the issues and priorities, and the practical solutions that will deliver the environmental results that farmers, communities and all New Zealanders want.
With calving and lambing underway in many areas, we wish you all the best for a successful spring season.
B+LNZ Chairman Andrew Morrison and Chief Executive Sam McIvor