Meat & Livestock News

Time for a Regulatory Rethink in Sheep and Beef Farming, Says Beef + Lamb NZ

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (BLNZ) is urging the government to reconsider its approach to environmental regulations affecting sheep and beef farmers. This comes in the wake of a report by consultancy firm BakerAg, which BLNZ says underscores the financial and administrative strain these regulations are placing on farmers.

BLNZ Chief Executive Sam McIvor emphasises the need for a comprehensive review of the government’s reform agenda. “The report supports our long-standing request for the government to halt the implementation of new rules and reassess existing or planned ones.

The aim is to ensure they are effective without imposing undue financial burden on farmers,” McIvor states.

The BakerAg report examined the financial implications of government policies on four case study farms. It found that annual consenting costs alone could reach up to $30,000 for some farms. One particular farm faced a one-time resource consent cost of $220,000, and all four incurred $15,000 in immediate direct costs for updates and audits.

BLNZ Chair Kate Acland points out that while farmers are not opposed to investing in environmental improvements, such investments should be directed towards actions that have a proven, measurable impact. “The current one-size-fits-all approach is not only costly but also lacks clear benefits,” Acland says.

The report also highlighted the looming costs of new freshwater rules and biodiversity initiatives, which are yet to be fully implemented. “The cumulative effect of these regulations jeopardises the financial sustainability of farms,” warns McIvor.

Acland adds that the stress among farmers is palpable, especially when considering the introduction of more than 20 new regulations, laws, and reforms affecting agriculture over the past six years. “These regulations are not isolated; their collective impact is significant.

They touch on everything from climate change and freshwater to biodiversity,” she explains.

Both McIvor and Acland are calling for a more integrated and pragmatic approach to policy-making. “It’s time for the government to pause, reassess, and simplify its regulatory approach.

We need policies that are not just piecemeal but take a more holistic view, enabling farmers to continue as responsible stewards of the land,” Acland concludes.