Freshwater rule changes suggested

Beef + Lamb New Zealand says the Southland Advisory Group’s recommendations on the intensive winter grazing rules offer "practical alternatives to arbitrary rules".

The group was asked to look at the implementation of the intensive winter grazing rules within the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.

It included farmers, and staff from B+LNZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fish and Game and Environment Southland.

It provided its advice to Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor last week.

In a statement, B+LNZ chairman Andrew Morrison, a Southland farmer, said the Environment Southland-led process had been a highly effective way of addressing major concerns with the new rules, and it was hoped the ministers would accept the recommendations.

The review recommended the removal of pugging and replanting date conditions and instead moving to the identification and protection of critical source areas — that is, a swale or gully that accumulates runoff from the surrounding area and channels it to a waterway.

Research showed that was the best way to address the effects from the activity on freshwater health, the statement said.

It recommended a change to the slope rule, removing the requirement to determine the mean slope of a paddock and replacing it with a specific maximum slope of 15deg.

It also recommended an interim approach to the certified freshwater farm plan, in the form of an intensive winter grazing module which could be part of a farm plan or ultimately be part of the certified freshwater farm plan for that activity. That would provide a permitted activity pathway if the farmer was undertaking best practice.

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader David Burger said the clear and practical recommendations would lead to better outcomes for the environment and local communities.

Greenpeace has called for an end to winter grazing, suggesting "a transition to regenerative farming".


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