Meat & Livestock News

Urgent Review Needed for New Zealand’s Freshwater Regulations Impacting Farmers

The farming sector in New Zealand is facing significant challenges due to the regulatory reforms introduced by outgoing Environment Minister David Parker.

These reforms, particularly the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater, have raised concerns among agricultural stakeholders about their impact on the economic viability of regional farming communities.

Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Chief Executive Sam McIvor has expressed concerns that regional councils may not have fully considered the economic and social consequences of these new regulations. He suggests that some of the targets set by councils are overly ambitious and could inflict considerable hardship on farmers.

Federated Farmers highlights that the NPS for Freshwater mandates all 16 regional councils in New Zealand to implement new freshwater rules by 2024. The Otago Regional Council, the first to release its draft plan under the new rules, has proposed stringent requirements.

These include a fertiliser cap of just 100kg of nitrogen per hectare, significantly lower than the 190kg national cap, and a stocking rate cap of 2.5 cows per hectare in most catchments.

According to Federated Farmers, these restrictions could severely undermine rural communities and leave many farming families in Otago, and potentially across the country, struggling financially.

B+LNZ advocates for an approach that supports farmers in adapting to these changes, rather than punitive measures. McIvor emphasises that while farmers are not opposed to the direction of environmental reforms, they seek support and practical solutions to meet these challenges.

Given these concerns, a major review of the new NPS should be a top priority for the incoming government. This review would aim to address the issues raised by the agricultural sector and reconsider the approach to ensure it is both pragmatic and supportive of farmers’ needs.

The goal is to balance environmental objectives with the economic sustainability of farming communities.