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Farm Plan Co-investment Pledge Is Positive, Feds Says

Labour’s pledge of an initial $50 million injection to partner with the agricultural sector on integrated farm plans is positive, Federated Farmers says.

"Central and local government load up a huge amount of expensive environmental management, labour, biosecurity and animal welfare regulation and compliance on farm businesses. So to have some co-investment in plans that hold potential to streamline or replace overlapping reporting, auditing and consent requirements is heartening," Feds environment spokesperson Chris Allen says.

There is still a great deal to work through around how to ensure farm plans are fit for purpose and recognise diverse needs and expectations, how they will be rolled out and what they will require of farmers.

"But if the core aims are to reduce compliance, duplication, paperwork and cost, and arrive at a system that works for the environment, for animal welfare, for farm and grower profitability and to help us with traceability and provenance to sell our produce to the world, then we’re on board," Chris says.

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement that farm plans will eventually supersede the need for consents is encouraging, changes to the new freshwater regulations will be required for that vision to come to fruition.

As currently written, the regulations only allow farm plans to replace consents for specific activities, namely intensive winter grazing and stockholding areas.

"The regulations need to be amended so they replace other impractical rules, for example blunt national rules around stock exclusion. Ultimately farm plans should also be used to set and meet catchment-specific environmental targets," Chris says.

"What’s needed are regulations which support rather than hamper good farmer decision making and stewardship."

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