Fed Talk: The forgotten part of Otago

When drafting the regional policy statement (RPS), the Otago Regional Council forgot that when farmers are hit with impractical policies and rules, it sucks the vitality out of rural communities and towns.

Federated Farmers Otago executive members and other ag industry representatives were involved in the expensive RPS process to remind councillors of the importance of farming to the region.

The RPS sets out the objectives, policies and methods around management of resources and Otago’s is well overdue for review.

In addition to the economic impact, Federated Farmers also focused on how the regulatory burden was impacting the social fabric of our rural communities. When you drive from say Dunedin to Queenstown, you pass rural sports clubs, fire stations, swimming pools and schools that are in large part there because of the support and fundraising by farmers and others in rural communities. The council’s proposed policy statement forgot about the realities of all that the rural community need to deal with.

Thankfully, those on the hearings panel recognised adding undue cost and delay through poorly thought-out regulation would be detrimental not only to farming but those very communities.

Rauru Kirikiri, the tangata whenua representative on the panel, said in response to Jo Hay’s evidence that she (like many others in the rural community) appears to have 50 hours in a day, with all that she can achieve and contribute to her family, her farm and the wider community.

Decisions by the hearings panel will now feed into the land and water plan and should steer things in a far more practical and cost-effective direction.

While the new government has signalled there will be changes to the bottom line and red tape, what Otago had planned was going to go significantly further than needed, with no greater measurable outcome for anyone.

The work put in by the local Federated Farmers exec and other industry groups was immense; it’s voluntary and often at the expense of their personal time.

So, on that trip to the next local rugby game or PTA meeting, have a think who has stepped up to fight for your interests. If you are not a Feds member — why not?

We would love to see you at our annual meeting at the Luggate Memorial Centre from 4pm on May 9.

 - By Federated Farmers Otago President Luke Kane