Changes to the stock exclusion regulations are promising, however Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Federated Farmers and Deer Industry New Zealand say further changes are needed to make the regulations workable and to give farmers certainty.
The Government’s recent announcement included exceptions to the low-slope map for the Upper Taieri Scroll Plain and for DoC grazing concessions or Crown Pastoral Lease land, along with other clarifications around existing fencing and exclusion.
These changes have been welcomed by the three sector groups, particularly the Upper Taieri Scroll Plain exception which appropriately provides for the planning and management of this unique site at the regional level and could set a precedent for considering this approach more widely.
However, the sector groups note that the changes are isolated to specific circumstances and do not relate to the three options for low-intensity systems to be managed differently, as consulted on in July. B+LNZ, Federated Farmers and DINZ provided a joint submission on the Government’s proposed changes which was informed by more than 340 responses from farmers to a joint survey.
The Government has indicated it is still looking at how more flexibility can be incorporated into the regulations in the future while still achieving positive environmental outcomes, although no detail has been provided about what this may look like.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the changes announced are a good start. “The changes will provide relief to some farmers and go some way towards making the stock exclusion regulations fit for purpose.
“However, we’re not there yet. The regulations are still flawed so with our sector partners we will continue to push for additional changes to be made.”
Federated Farmers freshwater spokesperson Colin Hurst says farmers need certainty. “Low impact farming is still taking a hit. There are many extensive farmers that cannot financially or physically fence all the rivers and streams on their farms. Forcing them to do so would put them out of business for little environmental benefit.
“The regulations were passed in 2020 and farmers were given five years to fence off streams. The Government has made a complete mess of these regulations, with two major changes in the three years since they were passed and the lead-in time is now less than 24 months. If the Government is going to progress with these regulations an extension to the timeframes will also be needed.”
Deer Industry New Zealand CEO Innes Moffat says the Government needs to work with the sector. “In our submission we called on the Government to work with us on a fair and workable solutions to ensuring good water quality on cattle and deer farms.
“While we appreciate any improvements to the current solution, the Government needs to go further to ensuring the stock exclusion regulations are outcomes-driven, practical, fair and workable for farmers.”
The three organisations will continue to work together on getting changes to the stock exclusion regulations.
They stress that while farmers understand the rationale for keeping animals away from waterways, their concerns are about impractical and unworkable rules with potential unintended consequences.
For media queries please contact:
- B+LNZ on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Federated Farmers: Colin Hurst on 027 689 5898
- DINZ: Sara Elmes on 027 699 5070