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Farms Are Not Museum Pieces

15 October 1999

PR111/99

FARMS ARE NOT MUSEUM PIECES

Federated Farmers said today that Labour's environmental policy does little to help farmers achieve good environmental results. Federated Farmers President and environment spokesperson Alistair Polson said that, while the overall policy had several good elements, it had missed the point. "Labour's stance is that farmers are only custodians, not owners. Farmers are referred to as "curators". Farms are not museum pieces; they are the nation's source of income," said Mr Polson. "While Labour recognises that the best relationships between groups are partnerships, and that is welcomed, this relationship does not extend to farmers." Labour's policy document does not mention landowners as a group that they will form a 'partnership' with, and only mentions farmers towards the end. "The thrust of Labour's environment policy is aimed at environmental and community groups - not the people who will make the difference - landowners." "While their policy is to encourage mediation, the proposed financial support for environmental and community groups to litigate is contradictory. "The proposed changes will only encourage court action, and reduce the incentives for negotiation and compromise. Financial incentives and cost-sharing are far more effective than heavy-handed regulations. Farmers will find this extremely concerning." Federated Farmers will be seeking even-handedness in the awarding of legal aid, and will apply for funding. "Labour needs to reflect carefully on encouraging environmental litigation. This policy could signal to businesses that new investment will be very difficult, with disappointing results for jobs and economic growth." Federated Farmers supports Labour's emphasis on finding ways to develop effective and lower cost District Plans. The farm lobby organisation further welcomed the intention to look again at the proposed Resource Management Act amendments. Federated Farmers believes that farmers should receive help towards meeting higher environmental standards that the community imposes on their farming operations, and looks for guaranteed national funding required to achieve any National Policy Statements.

ENDS

For further information: Alistair Polson 06-342-2853 or 025-370-085 Catherine Petrey 04-473-7269




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