Federated Farmers is warning the Government to think
carefully about the message its new water policy, announced
yesterday, would send.
Dairy chairman Andrew Hoggard said the quality of New
Zealand's water bodies was ''generally stable to improving''
and using the law to enforce stock exclusion from the start
of the 2017-18 season implied the Sustainable Dairying: Water
Accord had failed.
''The voluntary accord is an outstanding success. It's a
marvellous example of dairy farmers, industry and councils
all working together for better environmental outcomes,'' he
Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries
Minister Nathan Guy were in Southland with Prime Minister
John Key yesterday to make the announcement a re-elected
government would spend $10 million over 10 years to buy and
retire selected areas of farmland next to important
National would also introduce a mandatory requirement to
exclude dairy cattle from the waterways.
Irrigation New Zealand applauded the announcement, saying the
policy recognised the value of irrigation and continues to
place the responsibility of cleaning up New Zealand's
waterways with the community.
But Mr Hoggard said in just more than a decade, stock had
been excluded from 23,000km of waterways. That was enough
fencing to go from Auckland to Beijing and return, with a
side trip to Queenstown.
As of last year, 90% of all dairy farm waterways had been
''Stock exclusion may appear voluntary at an industry level,
but it is a Fonterra condition of supply so, for farmers,
it's effectively compulsory,'' he said.
Ms Adams said the $10 million over 10 years would give
councils another option to help manage freshwater by enabling
sensitive areas to be retired for environmental purposes.
National would introduce a requirement to exclude dairy
cattle from waterways by July 1, 2017 and work with industry
to exclude other cattle from waterways over time on
intensively farmed lowland properties, she said.
Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairman Rick Powdrell said
with some politicians wanting to exclude all stock on all
farms, extensive farm systems would become almost impossible
The biggest environmental issue for drystock farmers was not
pure stock exclusion but land stability and combating
Drystock farmers used Beef and Lamb's land environment plans
which were worked through regionally with many councils.
''The problem we have with blunt regulation is that it might
solve one problem but cause many more,'' Mr Powdrell said.
''The practicalities of steep gullies, flash flooding and
invasive noxious weeds, means it's nigh impossible to fence
off every single waterway.
''You are talking about topography and nature.''
One of the best ways to keep cattle out of water was to
provide shade trees and reticulated water, giving them a
chance to keep cool and away from a waterway, Mr Powdrell