David Parker must delay winter grazing regulations

The Government is about to pile up to $100 million of unnecessary compliance costs onto farmers because its freshwater regulations are more than a year overdue, National’s Agriculture spokespeople Barbara Kuriger and Joseph Mooney say.

“Under Environment Minister David Parker’s regulations, farmers must have a certified freshwater farm plan for winter grazing on sloping land. If they do not have a certified plan, they must obtain a resource consent,” Barbara Kuriger says.

"Two years after the regulations were passed, the Ministry for the Environment has not completed the framework allowing farmers to certify freshwater farm plans. Officials have indicated the framework will not be ready this year.

“The regulations have already been delayed by David Parker twice, but are now due to come into force in November. Because the guidelines will not be ready, many thousands of farmers will have no alternative but to apply for resource consents for their winter grazing.

“Officials say as many as 10,000 resource consents will be required, while industry estimates are higher. Each application could cost up to $10,000.

“The total cost to New Zealand’s farmers could be $100 million if David Parker continues to sit on his hands.

“Most of the affected farms are in Southland, Otago and Canterbury, but farms will be affected in most parts of New Zealand.”

“With New Zealand’s farmers already facing the highest inflation in more than 30 years and sharply rising interest rates, adding $100 million in unnecessary costs is a kick in the guts for New Zealand’s most productive sector,” Joseph Mooney says.

“The worst part of this is that forcing farmers to apply for consents is unlikely to achieve any environmental gains.

“If New Zealand’s regional councils were to suddenly receive 10,000 applications, the consenting teams would inevitably be swamped, meaning the process would likely become a box-ticking exercise.

“Farmers are looking at paying up to $100 million for an expensive tick box exercise to cover David Parker’s failure to get these regulations sorted. It is outrageous.

“This Government cannot deliver anything. David Parker should put the new regulations on hold for a further 12 months while his officials get their process sorted.

“National supports moves to improve freshwater management, but New Zealand needs regulations that are fit for purpose.”