INDEPENDENT NEWS

Concerns about speed of the freshwater consultation process

Published: Wed 11 Sep 2019 04:07 PM
Feds has deep concerns about the speed of the freshwater consultation process
Federated Farmers is asking nicely - please can the Government immediately extend the timeframe of the Essential Freshwater consultation so we can find a pathway forward that provides for both the health of the water, the health of people and the health of communities.
One week into the exceptionally short timeframe of a six week consultation an economic report released by Local Government New Zealand has starkly highlighted alarming social consequences for regional economies from the government’s proposals.
"It’s bloody hard on farmers to be facing such challenges, and change, and not feel like they can have some input," Federated Farmers president Katie Milne says.
"Yes, we have a bunch of policy people here at Feds who can, and are, working through this massive process at double-quick time for our members, but our farmers still need to have time to be part of this.
"This is not us stalling for time. Normally consultation on something of this significance would be given six months, not six weeks. You have to give the people time to engage."
Federated Farmers shares the New Zealand community’s vision for measurable improvements to water quality.
"In some areas more investment will be needed and changes made to the way we farm. This in addition to the thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours, many have already invested," Federated Farmers environment and water spokesperson Chris Allen says.
"But we all need more time to ensure we get it right - right for the environment but also right for the people. Sadly we have not been involved in any of the development of these proposals. All we have is six weeks," Chris says.
The government keeps talking about these proposals only costing individual farmers one or two percent to reach the new targets.
"What they don’t talk about, or even seem to acknowledge, is the downstream affect for all the local businesses, industry suppliers and wider communities dependent on farming sector income.
"What happens to a local community when a farmer decides the best option is for their land to no longer be a farm?"
The LGNZ report questions the government’s economic assessment and predicts the economic consequences for regional economies will be huge.
The Waikato-Waipa catchment example in the LGNZ report predicts land now in livestock (sheep, cattle, deer and horses) would decrease by a third, and be replaced by pine trees.
The LGNZ modelling estimates annual costs of $100 million or 11% loss of total profits derived from this land use change - for just that one catchment.
This does not take into account that it will be up to 25 years before the increased income form forestry starts to come on stream.
And there will be much less money than that flowing through the community.
"What about the people working on farms, in meat and milk processing plants, and in the small and large business servicing the livestock sector when milk volumes fall by over 10% and stock numbers being processed drop by two thirds?"
Find the LGNZ report here:
https://www.lgnz.co.nz/assets/bcbc3efa29/RSWS-Advisory-Report-10-September-2019.pdf
ENDS

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