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A Classic Example Of The Disconnect From Farming

The new “National Environmental Standards for Freshwater” which were introduced by the current government in August are to be amended. The Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor announced Wednesday that cabinet had agreed the winter grazing regulations weren’t practical. This announcement comes before the new regulations have even taken effect; they actually come into force in September.

Federated Farmers aren’t convinced the changes to the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, announced Wednesday, will make much difference for Southland and Otago farmers.

Southland Federated Farmers vice-president Bernadette Hunt welcomed the amendments and Government’s acknowledgement that the policy was flawed, but said the changes still didn’t address the unique challenges farmers in the south faced, with its wetter than average winters.

National’s Environment spokesman Scott Simpson and Agriculture spokesman David Bennett plan to repeal or review the regulations announced on 5 August,” if they win in the upcoming election.

“We all want improved fresh water outcomes, but we have to back farmers to farm their way to better outcomes as they have been doing,” Bennett says.

A farmer from Pomohaka in Southland has spoken out about the new regulations as they relate to his farming operations:

“I have been stewing on this for some time but it’s finally got the better of me. I’ve spent my whole life on the land & 45 years farming on my own account. My sons now farm the same land as myself & my father but for the first time in my life I’m struggling to understand what the politicians who make the laws are trying to do to the farmers & people of New Zealand.

Why would we get laws that no one can make sense of? This is how communism was explained to me as a child.

When a government tells you what to do & when to do it.

We have a law coming in on the 1st of September that will tell us that we have to have our crops sown by a certain date 1st of November for Otago Southland irrespective of the weather.

We will also have to get consent from most likely someone who has never been on the land to sow crops in order to feed the animals in the winter.

We are also told that if the stock pug more than 50% of the paddock or any part of the paddock to 20cm or more then we will be breaking the law & subject to prosecution, this is regardless of the weather. If it’s a wet winter this is impossible & no farmer in the south will be able to achieve this.

Why would anyone make a law knowing that the people it concerns have no way of complying with it.

As a member of the Pomahaka water care group I have already seen the massive amount of work & money farmers are pouring into improving water quality with very positive results.

Would it not be more value to New Zealand if farmers put the cost of getting consents into building sediment traps and planting out critical source areas?

Laws like this are not just a farmer’s problem; this should be of concern to all New Zealanders as this is simply an erosion of people’s freedoms and rights.”

This situation we have where there are changes being talked about before regulations have even come into force, to me highlights the flawed process that led to this situation and the letter from the farmer above reinforces my belief that there is a serious disconnect between the bureaucracy of government and the real world where people actually produce food and fibre.

We need to set national standards that will allow New Zealand to protect our natural environment but also to grow our economic base but in the present case the policies are not balanced between Environmental protection and Economic reality for the farming communities.

This unbalanced approach that New Zealand is taking is putting stress on the people who produce our food and fibre which enables the New Zealand public to have security of their food supply and maintain a standard of living that many other countries don’t have.

The government has set very high environmental standards that are designed to satisfy the lobbyists and other organisations that they are doing everything in their power to protect the natural environment.

These high standards, due to both their compliance levels and also their rapid enactment, are becoming some of the main drivers that are stopping our economy from performing to the standard that is required to give the majority of New Zealander’s the life style that they want.

Our environmental standards should be derived from good science and standards that are set and used internationally not some ideological based higher standard. The public needs to be involved with setting environmental standards but need to use good science in helping to set these policies.

The Government and the people of New Zealand have become disconnected from reality and they have to realise that the agricultural industries need balanced policies around the environment & the economy, set using good science and common sense to allow them to perform to the required standard to meet the expectations of the New Zealand public in relation to security of food supply and their standards of living.

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