Call for winter grazing submissions

Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie (left) and Laurie Paterson attend the Howl of a Protest...
Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie (left) and Laurie Paterson attend the Howl of a Protest in Gore in July. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
The fight against unworkable regulations continues and farmers should write a submission on proposed changes to intensive winter grazing regulations, Groundswell NZ co-founder Bryce McKenzie says.

Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the Government would open consultation on some of the rules it had implemented as part of its National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

Consultation runs until October 7.

Mr McKenzie, of West Otago, said although spring was a busy time for farmers they should make a submission.

‘‘Farmers need to be submitting on this — without a doubt.’’

However, if the Government had taken notice of the 17,000 submissions made during its initial consultation it would have realised some of the proposed rules such as set sowing dates were not practical.

‘‘Everyone knows you can only sow your paddocks when they are ready — you can’t do it if it’s raining — it’s just crazy.’’

The group’s ‘‘Howl of a Protest’’ attracted tens of thousands of people across New Zealand in July.

Mr McKenzie said more protest action was being planned.

A range of issues still remained including the Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme, its ‘‘ute tax’’ and changes to its proposal for low slope maps.

‘‘The fight is still ongoing.’’

Mr Parker said the Government had changed its proposed approach to low slope maps.

‘‘Under the proposal, farmers wanting to undertake intensive winter grazing on slopes over 10 degrees can do so with a certified freshwater farm plan.’’

Scientific evidence shows intensive winter grazing at 15 degrees results in twice as much soil being lost than if planted at 10 degrees.

Mr O’Connor said under the proposed changes, farmers would be required to re-sow grazed paddocks as soon as conditions allowed, instead of by a set date.

Specific requirements around the depth of pugging would also be removed. The introduction of intensive winter grazing practice regulations was proposed to be deferred until November next year.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said the proposed changes appeared to be a ‘‘sensible step forward’’ but DairyNZ would review the fine print to help deliver rules which worked on-farm.

The proposed resowing date shift to ‘‘as soon as practicable’’ was good to see, Dr Mackle said.

‘‘This makes it possible for farmers to establish their crops well, in line with weather and managing environmental risk.’’

The potential deferral of the wintering regulations would provide time for detail to be worked out and enabled farmers to continue their plans for next season, Dr Mackle said.

Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen said the proposed changes were ‘‘a win for common sense’’.

‘‘We never give up hope that common sense will eventually prevail, especially when Covid makes it clear New Zealand’s prosperity to a large degree depends on our primary industries’ export earnings.’’

Beef + Lamb New Zealand chief executive Sam McIvor said the Government had replaced the pugging and sowing date rules with ‘‘sensible and pragmatic alternatives’’.

‘‘We believe the Government’s new proposed approach, which focuses on practical management by farmers, is more workable — and that’s progress.

‘‘But we still have concerns around the proposed revised 10-degree slope rule for winter grazing and the certified freshwater farm plan process.

‘‘The Government has proposed an improvement on the slope rule, but we still think the approach is more restrictive than it needs to be to manage the environmental risks.

‘‘For example, we’d like to see flexibility in situations where there is no receiving water body nearby.’’

B+LNZ was seeking feedback from farmers on the proposed new slope rule to inform its submission.


Tourism has died because of covid 19.
Will this Government continue with Green party idealism, and kill of farming also?
Weather we as kiwis like it or not, farming is the backbone of the NZ economy.
Sure we need to keep an eye on things, but to charge farmers a resource consent to plough a paddock? A resource consent for the land they own?
Environment southland especially, lm sure the majority of the staff there, don't like what's coming.
Same as myself, my Environmental rates on my half acre is ridiculous, and for what is this fee for?
Another peice of paper to cost us all thousands of dollars.
Whats next dare l ask.

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