National’s farm regulations announcement a ‘significant step in the right direction’

// Industry

National’s first tranche of announcements today on changes to farm regulations is a significant step in the right direction, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) CEO Sam McIvor.

Image of river through Waikato farm.

This morning, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd McClay and Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson said there would be sweeping changes to farm regulations which would improve access to workers, restore local decision-making, and protect food production, should National win the 2023 general election.

McIvor says B+LNZ has been calling for policy changes in line with National’s announcement for some time, including through the Kiwis backing farmers campaign.

“It’s pleasing to see National's recognition of the importance of striking a balance between environmental and economic outcomes, which is essential for the long-term viability of the agricultural sector, and New Zealand as a whole,” he says.

“We need to see further details, but it’s encouraging that they are trying to correct some of the existing unworkable rules that B+LNZ has been raising concerns about.”

McIvor says sheep and beef farmers are being disproportionately impacted by the recent raft of environmental changes.

“We agree with the proposed changes announced today to some of the freshwater rules relating to the low slope map; freshwater farm plans and winter grazing,” he says.

“It’s also pleasing to see National’s announcement address the fair definition of a Significant Natural Areas (SNAs) to ensure that the right areas of our precious biodiversity are protected.”

McIvor says a major concern for sheep and beef farmer is the scale and pace farms being sold to convert into forestry, which is driven by the carbon price.

“New Zealand is an outlier internationally in allowing 100 percent of offsetting of emissions through forestry,” he says.

“This must be addressed by putting limits in the ETS on the amount of offsetting fossil fuel emitters can do before any price on agricultural emissions is introduced.

“In the short term we support looking at the OIO settings, because foreign investors are currently benefiting from New Zealand’s unique policy settings that allow forestry to also gain significant revenue from carbon credits. But ultimately, we need to see reform of the ETS itself as that is what is driving the issue.”

B+LNZ will continue to advocate with all parties on key policy issues affecting sheep and beef farmers leading up to the election as outlined in our policy manifesto, says McIvor.


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