Update on environment work

// Climate Change

We wanted to update you on some key areas we’re working on in the environment space – including getting the essential freshwater rules fixed and responding to the Climate Change Commission’s consultation on its draft advice to Government.

Image of river through Waikato farm.

The environment remains top of mind for many farmers at the moment, and B+LNZ’s approach (and commitment) remains the same:

  • get workable rules
  • help farmers find pathways through those rules
  • make a strong case for pausing the introduction of any new rules.

Getting the essential freshwater rules fixed

We’re aware there’s concern among farmers about the lack of clarity about whether the unworkable aspects of the new freshwater rules will be changed. We’ve reiterated the need for certainty when we’ve met with Ministers and Government officials – and we’re hoping to get a formal response in the next couple of weeks.

We’ve attended these meetings with Federated Farmers and DairyNZ – presenting a united front on these issues has been crucial to us at all stages of this process.

While Ministers have acknowledged some of the winter grazing rules need to change and seem to have received the recommendations positively, we’ll keep working hard to get a good outcome.

Key to the case for change has been the excellent work of the Southland Advisory Group, who in December presented Ministers with a proposal containing practical alternatives to the problematic aspects of the national intensive winter grazing regulations.

The cross-industry advisory group was led by Environment Southland and included local farmers, B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Fish & Game New Zealand. There’s more information about the group’s recommendations on the Environment Southland website but, in summary, the group recommended:

  • deleting the resowing dates
  • deleting the pugging rules
  • amending the slope map from 10 degrees to 15 degrees for the winter grazing rules
  • replacing these rules with an approach focused on managing critical source areas
  • and for those farmers still unable to meet the new winter grazing rules, the group proposed a winter grazing module that could be done by a farmer instead of applying for consent. 

We’re also continuing to press for practical changes to the separate low slope map currently proposed to determine whether farmers need to exclude their stock from waterways. Our preference is that the map is removed and replaced by a general rule that Regional Councils would be empowered to give effect to.

We’ll provide more information on the freshwater rules as soon as we can.

Responding to the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice to Government

The consultation around the release of the Climate Change Commission’s draft advice to Government is a major priority for B+LNZ because it will shape policy for the years to come.

We’ve been analysing the Commission’s 800-page report in detail and next week we’ll release a factsheet outlining the results of this work. We’ll email all farmers with this information so keep an eye on your inbox – it will also be available on the B+LNZ website.

For our initial response to the Commission’s draft advice when it was released, read the media release on our website. The report itself is on the Climate Change Commission website.

On Tuesday 2 March we’ll hold a national webinar so farmers can:

  • understand what the Commission’s draft advice means for red meat producers, and what B+LNZ thinks about it
  • hear what B+LNZ is doing on behalf of farmers to engage in the process
  • find out what you can do to engage in the consultation process.

A note about biodiversity

We continue to strongly make the case to Government that work on the Draft National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity needs to remain paused. We’ll update you when more information is available.

It was heartening to see the Climate Change Commission’s report recognising that environmental policy – relating to climate change, freshwater and biodiversity – needs to be more joined-up and policies need to head in the same direction. This is something we’ve been advocating for to make it easier for farmers.