Local Government New Zealand’s Regional Sector is welcoming a decision by the Government to allow for continued testing and deployment of improved intensive winter grazing practices, ahead of new regulations coming into effect next year.
The announcement comes after collaboration between a group of Southland farmers, environmental agencies, farming bodies and regional councils that provided recommendations to the Government on how to make new intensive winter grazing regulations more practical and effective to implement.
The group has developed a draft intensive winter grazing farm module, which will be developed and tested for formal incorporation into wider certified freshwater farm plans in 2022.
“Allowing for more development of on the ground practice will deliver a better regulation,” said LGNZ Regional Sector Chair, Doug Leeder.
“Both Ministers Parker and O’Connor have set clear expectations about what they expect to see over the next 12 months, to address the worst impacts of winter grazing, and we will be working closely with farmers to meet those expectations,” he said.
“Central and local government share the same objective – to improve our freshwater quality.
“The decision to allow more time to get things right is a credit to all parties in Southland for their collaboration, and the Government for listening and responding with a timeframe that lets that happen.”
The announcement will see the intensive winter grazing regulations in the National Environmental Standard for Freshwater (NESFM) come into effect on 30 April 2022, but in the meantime, regulations that control further expansion of intensive winter grazing will continue this winter.
“The collaboration between all the parties has been really constructive, and shows what’s possible when we all work together for a common purpose. Industry groups were involved in this outcome and that’s very powerful as it means the advice and support for farmers will be clear and consistent,” said Southland Regional Council Chairman, Nicol Horrell.
“It’s vital landowners have a real stake in getting this right, so they can build upon the improvement we’re seeing year on year,” he said.
“The Ministers are showing faith in the farming sector about what needs to happen over the next 12 months and we’re committed to working with the farming industry and continuing our collaboration with the Government, to get this right.”