Advice from Southland group leads to practical rule changes
Environment Southland welcomes the Government’s consultation on regulation changes making the intensive winter grazing rules more practical for councils and farmers to apply and comply with.
Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said, “We can see that the Government has carefully considered the recommendations from the Southland Advisory Group and I believe the changes will be largely welcomed by the farming community.”
The Southland Advisory Group was established by Environment Southland following a meeting with farmers and Ministers Parker and O’Connor in September. The group was asked to look at the implementation of the intensive winter grazing rules within the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.
The group included several farmers, and staff from Beef + Lamb NZ, DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Fish and Game and Environment Southland. They focused their recommendations on improving water quality while addressing the concerns related to pugging, resowing dates, mean slope, and sub-surface drains. Their report was presented to Ministers in December 2020.
“The advisory group provided some very practical solutions, not only for farmers to implement on the ground, but also for councils who are trying to monitor and enforce these regulations,” Chairman Horrell said. “The work of the group again demonstrates that when Southlanders come together we can achieve much more than if we tried to do it individually.”
“Our focus continues to be on helping farmers improve their practices and ensure improved environmental outcomes, and these proposed changes seem to support that,” he said.
“Winter grazing practices can have a significant impact on Southland’s water quality if not done well, and legislation is an important part of the package that ensures we reduce the environmental risks of this activity and get good outcomes.”
If farmers can’t meet the default conditions to remain permitted, then the pathway to continued winter grazing is via a certified freshwater farm plan or a resource consent.
A further 6-month deferral to the commencement of the regulations is also proposed, now beginning on 1 November 2022.
“I’d encourage everyone to carefully consider the proposals and submit their views.”
The consultation period will run for 6 weeks until 7 October.