Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has renewed calls for changes to the stock exclusion regulations introduced in August 2020, specifically the low-slope map, saying the Government’s recent willingness to consider practical alternatives on winter grazing provides hope more workable options can be applied to managing stock around waterways.
“Our position has been clear all along – we want the inaccurate low-slope map to be deleted and replaced with a general rule that regional councils would be empowered to give effect to. This could be through either a slope-trigger rule based at the paddock scale or by undertaking their own regional mapping.
“We’re not against the ‘why’ – the intent of the rule is good, but we are concerned about the ‘how”.
The Government’s current low slope map currently identifies thousands of hectares of steep land as low slope and therefore required to be fenced.
“Tinkering around the edges of the unworkable and inaccurate national-scale map won’t get the right outcomes – we need regional approaches.”
Mr McIvor says the Government’s recent decision to support an industry-led Intensive Winter Grazing (IWG) module to farm plans in the coming year and to delay the implementation of the winter grazing rules shows that arbitrary rules are not the right approach.
“We have been very clear that farmers need workable and relevant rules and have been advocating for effects-based approaches at the paddock scale to both IWG and to stock exclusion, delivered through effective farm planning.
“We ask the Government to give certainty to farmers and to apply a commonsense approach to the low-slope map. We’re very willing to work with the Government on getting this right.”
More generally, B+LNZ is concerned about the blunt effect the 360 regulations (section 360 of the Resource Management Act 1991) approach to stock exclusion has and would like to see more regional discretion.
“By having strict rules there is no ability to consider whether there are animals in the paddock, how many or what type of animal, and it makes it harder for farmers to manage environmental risks. There are more effective ways of achieving the same, or even better, environmental outcomes.”
Mr McIvor says the regionally-based approach to stock exclusion is consistent with the adoption of stock exclusion rules, including a slope-trigger at paddock scale, in Hawke’s Bay and the recent introduction of similar rules in the Waikato.
“These approaches take into account how intensively paddocks are farmed and provide farmers with an alternative pathway if there are legitimate reasons for not wanting to fence the waterways.
“These rules are specific enough for the regional council to take action on breaches but flexible enough to ensure that good environmental outcomes are the driving force.”
B+LNZ will continue to work with other industry groups in advocating for changes to the stock exclusion regulations.
For media enquiries, please contact B+LNZ’s Senior Communications Advisor Katie Jans on 027 838 6353.