Labour pledges $50m to streamline red tape for farmers, growers

Labour has pledged $50 million to streamline the tangle of red tape confronting farmers and growers - which it promises will slash compliance costs and boost productivity.

The money would help set-up a system where a single "farm plan" covers all on-property requirements, including environmental management (such as freshwater management), labour, biosecurity, animal welfare and health and safety.

Such plans can cost between $5000 and $10,000. How much the Government would contribute to each plan is yet to be determined.

Jacinda Ardern and National leader Judith Collins are back on the campaign trail after last night's leaders' debate and 1News/Colmar Brunton poll that showed Labour on 48% - enough to govern alone.

National was at 31%, which was a one percentage point drop on the previous poll.

Damien O'Connor and Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at a farm in Mangatāwhiri in Waikato...
Damien O'Connor and Jacinda Ardern made the announcement at a farm in Mangatāwhiri in Waikato this morning. Image: NZ Herald
Ardern said farmers and growers have complained about growing compliance costs, with sometimes multiple and overlapping requirements and no universal system across central government, councils and industry.

"New Zealand's farmers and growers are creative, innovative and always look to improve their practices. A single farm plan will help them to capture all of their compliance requirements in one place, achieve their economic goals and support the transition to a clean, green carbon neutral New Zealand."

Ardern made the announcement in a calf shed and after touring the Green Valley Dairy Company in Mangatawhiri, Waikato, and seeing inside the milk company's factory, which processes milk piped from a nearby milking shed.

She said such operations had proven resilient through Covid-19 disruption, and record export prices were "helping us to grow our way out of the economic crisis of the global pandemic".

"We will support this recovery by making it easier, cheaper and less time consuming to meet various regulatory and reporting requirements and gather the data that ensures our farmers and growers have the opportunity to add value to their products and market them at a premium to the world."

Agriculture spokesperson Damien O'Connor said it currently costs between $5000 and $10,000 for each property to develop an integrated farm plan, and the initial $50m fund would "create a cost sharing agreement with industry which will ensure every farmer and grower pays less for their compliance".

The first stage will be to establish an agreed framework, and templates covering the minimum regulatory requirements and how information should be reported and shared. Over time, this will result in one mechanism for compliance, Labour says - with all reporting requirements done through integrated farm plans.

The party wants to have planning, data-sharing and industry cost-sharing agreements drafted by mid-2021, with initial templates rolled out by the end of 2021.

The idea is such plans provide a single way to meet the requirements of councils and/or central government.

"We will build on the work we have already undertaken with industry by providing initial funding to kick-start a closer collaboration with the sector to develop integrated farm planning that works," O'Connor said.

"One of the first farm plan templates to be rolled out will seek to replace the consent process for intensive winter grazing. Working with the regional councils and the industry we will design a template that makes applying for intensive winter grazing consent much easier or, over time, supersedes the need for the consent process."

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman welcomed the support for the plans, saying more than 10,000 hectares of land used for vegetable and fruit growing already managed using them. Information about the plans had been translated into Chinese, to encourage uptake.

"The horticulture industry sees farm environment plans as powerful tools for reducing environmental impact and providing evidence to meet regulatory requirements, while maintaining if not enhancing yields and returns."

The organisation had been trialling use of the plans with vegetable growers in Levin and Pukekohe, and growers had found they got better information about their land and use of fertilisers.

"They also say that through the farm Environment plan process, they have been able to take a step back and start challenging thinking, and figuring out if more modern practices can make things better, both for the environment and their growing businesses."

 

Comments

Hilarious! Labour kicks farmers at every opportunity and then throws out a bribe. This will not get farmers vote

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