Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the Waikato Plan Change One decision for the Waikato and Waipa catchments to reflect the impact of different types of farming.
B+LNZ encourages central government to reflect on this decision in the Essential Freshwater proposals.
After hearing evidence from leading scientists, planners and policy-makers, five independent commissioners recommended a more flexible management framework for farms with a light environmental footprint and an end to ‘grandparenting’, which sought to lock in current discharges from the farm to the environment, effectively rewarding high emitting land uses.
“This decision is a victory for common sense and a recognition that low intensity farming should not be penalised to enable higher impact farming practises to continue unabated,” says Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor.
“The commissioners and the council have backed our long-held position, which is something we have been advocating for in the government’s Action on Healthy Waterways consultation. We’re now calling on the government to carefully consider this decision and the panel’s recommendations as it considers the next steps for its freshwater reforms.”
Corina Jordan, B+LNZ Environment Policy Lead, says the panel is supporting the polluter pays principle where people are directly responsible for the effects their activities have on freshwater quality, and those who have the greatest impact face increased regulatory scrutiny.
“The panel was right to throw out the proposal that all farms in a catchment would have to operate below a set point for nitrogen run-off, based on current nitrogen losses.
“This approach would have prevented low nitrogen-discharging farms from changing their system, even where that would deliver other environmental benefits such as for biodiversity, climate change and adaption, or freshwater health.
“The panel considered this would penalise low emitter farms and those early adopters of good farm practices to reduce impacts on freshwater, and reward higher emitter farms. B+LNZ has long argued that this would have been inequitable, unjust, and unlikely to improve the health of freshwater in the region.”
B+LNZ also welcomes the panel’s view that on steeper land, with a slope of more than 15 degrees, farmers should not automatically have to fence stock out of waterways, says Ms Jordan.
“The decision recognises that the issues and therefore solutions are different in the hill country than for lowland farms where stocking rates are higher.
“The government’s proposed ‘one size fits all approach’ will not result in positive environmental outcomes, and actually sends the perverse signal that those that have the greatest discharges to the environment are rewarded.
“If the government proceeds with its current proposals, those with the lightest touch will bear the greatest impacts to their ongoing business resilience and viability. We urge Ministers to take note of the panel’s report and adopt a fair and common sense approach.”
For more information please contact B+LNZ’s General Manager for Communications and Engagement, Rowena Hume 027 22 44 535.