Proposals for freshwater management

November 8, 2013

Environment Minister Amy Adams and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have released proposals for improving freshwater management, including national water standards.

On-going and reliable supply of healthy water is one of the most important environmental and economic issues facing New Zealand today,” Ms Adams says.

“It is critical that we protect and improve the water quality that we all care so much about.”

“This is an issue that affects us all. We need to work together to create a better way of managing what is New Zealand’s most important natural resource,” Mr Guy says.

In 2011, the Government required regions to maintain or improve the water quality in their lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers.

In March a document was released outlining the Government’s proposed plan of action for improving water quality and the way freshwater is managed.

In August, the Government announced its intention to create a collaborative planning option for the development of a freshwater plan within a community.

Today, the Government is releasing a document to seek the public’s feedback on more detailed proposals for amendments to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The discussion document seeks feedback on the Government’s proposals for:

  • a national framework to support communities setting freshwater objectives
  • explicit recognition of tangata whenua values for freshwater
  • ecosystem and human health as compulsory values in regional plans
  • bottom lines for ecosystem and human health that apply everywhere, and

restricted grounds for exceptions to bottom lines; and

  • requiring councils to account for all water takes and contaminant discharges

More than 60 freshwater scientists from public, private and academic sectors across New Zealand have come up with numeric values proposed for national bottom lines for freshwater.

Ministers have not been involved in the scientific detail of the framework.

The numbers have also been tested with a reference group of water users to make sure they are practical. Further water quality attributes and numbers will be added over time.

The framework will be underpinned by good information that supports regional decision-making, including the environmental, social and economic impacts of any proposed objectives and limits.

“As a minimum, councils still have to maintain or improve water quality, but we are proposing a safety net in national bottom lines for ecosystem and human health,” Ms Adams says.

“These are to safeguard aquatic life in our water bodies, and ensure we can enjoy our water for activities like boating and wading.”

“We expect people to debate these bottom lines – that’s the nature of science – but the freshwater scientists’ numbers we are releasing today also reflect the important role of value judgements in choosing how we use our fresh water,” Mr Guy says.

“If we can get agreement now, there will be less arguing and litigation over regional plans and resource consent applications. It will give people more certainty about what is allowed and what is not, and all this will save time and money.”

The discussion document, the draft amended National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and supporting documents and studies are available here.

Public meetings and hui will be held around the country this month and next. Dates and venues will be posted on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.

Amy Adams’ speech is here.

Farmers are welcoming the proposals.

“What is being proposed directly comes out of the recommendations of the Land & Water Forum and represent a significant change in how communities will plan for water into the future,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson.

“This is a collaborative response to what has been a collaborative process.

“It is a framework which provides an accounting system for measuring water quantity and quality. This reduces much of the subjective emotion that has typified the discussion and sets bottom lines for water quality.

“This also is about giving communities the power to set their own aspirations for water. For the first time this will be scientifically, culturally and economically informed. It won’t be easy and will need some sacrifice from agriculture and urban communities alike.

“As Minister Adams noted at the launch, some of our most polluted waterways are in our towns and cities. It is why every New Zealander has a responsibility to play their part.

“Just like some farmers may face greater restrictions, some cities and their ratepayers may face wastewater upgrades costing hundreds of millions of dollars. The thing about the proposed amendments is that it introduces the concept of time; many issues may have taken decades to build and may take decades to resolve.

“I can confidently say New Zealand’s primary industries are up for this challenge.

“It is a challenge that rightly starts by giving communities the full facts. This is helped by input provided by 60 of New Zealand’s foremost freshwater scientists. For the first time we can build up a picture for what the impacts are and where they are coming from.

“It will also be helped by giving communities an idea as to what the costs of water options being considered are. As long as the community goes into decisions with its eyes open, as farmers, we cannot really complain.

“Many of the issues we face are long-term and the solutions will equally need an intergenerational approach. That makes it important to get the foundations right.

“While the framework is not complete and needs details to flesh it out, it and the consultation now underway, are important steps towards a more open and honest discussion about water,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

IrrigationNZ says the integration of socio-economic and environmental objectives is the only way New Zealand will achieve long-term sustainability.

“It’s good to see the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum being put into action and IrrigationNZ applauds the scientists and planners behind the framework. It’s a sensible, well-informed first iteration and we look forward to its further development,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

Mr Curtis says communities will now be able to come together and make informed decisions around the values of local waterways. “The framework delivers a more consistent approach to the setting of freshwater objectives and limits throughout New Zealand. IrrigationNZ is particularly excited by the breadth of community values that have been captured. Long term sustainability requires the marrying of socio economic and environmental aspirations and the framework achieves that.”

Another highlight for IrrigationNZ is recognition within the framework that communities need flexibility as they work towards meeting freshwater objectives.

“This is important as there are many factors impacting on water quality and a range of management approaches that can be taken as a result. While much of New Zealand’s freshwater resource is in good shape, there are also hotspots that urgently require attention. For IrrigationNZ, our contribution is working out how we better use water for irrigation and the framework reinforces that with its focus on measurement. Irrigators understand the importance of monitoring and measurement as our industry is founded on it. Our work programme is now based on improving water use efficiency and minimising nutrient losses to groundwater and waterways which will go a long way to delivering improved freshwater outcomes.”

The one jarring note for IrrigationNZ is the continuing debate around what should be included as attributes in the national bottom lines.

“In reality it’s difficult to set national bottom lines for many attributes due to the diversity and complexity of our landscape and waterbodies. Some freshwater attributes, particularly biotic-based indicators that are derived from multiple parameters, are better set at the catchment level where scenario specific analysis can be undertaken.”

Forest and Bird says the proposals are a good first step towards cleaner rivers.

. . . “Currently, regional councils decide their own water quality values. Inevitably, these have been disputed by different sectors all the way to the Environment Court,” says Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell.

“It makes real sense to get consistency and agreement, all at once at a national level, and to have nationally consistent bottom lines.

“While the National Objectives Framework is a good start, as proposed, it would benefit from some more flesh on its bones,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“An obvious omission is that there is no objective that directly relates to the health of freshwater insects, and we hope that they can be included in the national framework that is implemented. Insects provide a direct measurement of how healthy a lake or river is,”
Kevin Hackwell says.

“Where there are still gaps in the regional science – which mean we can’t yet agree on a national set of numbers for particular water quality values – we should still be able to agree on some tight wording on what standards we want to see achieved.

“Tight ’descriptive’ objectives would provide crucial guidance for regional councils to work to, while the figures are worked out,” Kevin Hackwell says.

The Environmental Defence Society also says the proposals are a good first step.

“This is the critically important keystone to the entire freshwater reform process,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“When EDS initiated the Land and Water Forum process in 2008, we had no idea it would take so long to get to this important stage. We finally have a draft of the much-needed national guidance for freshwater management in New Zealand.

“The overall NOF framework appears to be consistent with the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum. That much is welcome.

“However the actual standards and bottom-lines proposed are incomplete and those that are there will need strengthening.

“In particular, we are aware the Science Panels and the Reference Group recommended that macroinvertebrates (small living critters in freshwater systems) should be included – but they haven’t been. We think this can and should be fixed in the final version.

“Overall, some of the other bottom-line standards appear weaker than expected and in many cases are considerably lower than current water quality. We will need to take scientific advice on what adjustments are required. We have to have standards that ensure that no further deterioration in freshwater quality occurs and that we are on an overall improvement pathway especially in lowland streams and rivers.

“Overall, New Zealand’s freshwater should be swimmable and fishable as a minimum.

“The government is running a series of workshops and consultation feedback has been sought with a closing date in February.

“On this occasion the government is generally on the right pathway which will be welcomed by my colleagues on the Land and Water Forum as being in accord with the consensus position we arrived at. EDS stands by that consensus,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Getting consensus on the freshwater strategy is far better than imposing something which will result in on-going wrangles and litigation.

Consensus does however, often require compromise.

All parties involved have a strong desire to ensure we have good freshwater standards that result in clean water. If they keep that in mind they ought to be able to build on what they have in common and work around their differences.

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 4, 2013

Commission updates Primary Production select committee on interest rate swaps investigation:

Commerce Commission Chairman Dr Mark Berry has today provided an update to the Primary Production select committee on the Commission’s progress in its interest rate swaps investigation.

In August 2012 the Commission began enquiring into whether interest rate swaps, a financial derivative product, were misleadingly marketed from 2005 onwards. The Commission has received 42 complaints since concerns were raised in the media.

“The investigation is at an early stage, but we are giving the issues full consideration. To date we have spent more than 1,000 staff hours on the investigation,” Dr Berry said.

The Commission is primarily considering whether the swaps were marketed in ways that may have misled customers as to their true risk, nature and suitability. . .

Minister welcomes King Salmon report:

The final report of the Board of Inquiry on New Zealand King Salmon’s application to develop new marine farms in the Marlborough Sounds was welcomed today by Minister of Conservation Dr Nick Smith.

“The Board has undertaken a thorough process being mindful of the need for New Zealand to conserve its natural resources with the need to grow exports, jobs and wealth,” Dr Smith says.

“The substantive decisions in the final report are consistent with the draft released last year, with the Board approving four new farms. These farms will occupy an area of just six hectares of surface water space out of a total of about 100,000 hectares in the Marlborough Sounds. They will enable King Salmon to grow its production from 7,500 to 15,000 tonnes per year, employ another 170 people and boost its annual export earnings by an extra $60m. . .

Good For Marlborough, Good For New Zealand:

The EPA Board of Inquiry’s (BOI) final determination will enable New Zealand King Salmon to deliver long-term benefits to the region, the community and the national economy.

Aquaculture New Zealand Chairman Peter Vitasovich said the four new salmon farms approved in the decision would create permanent full-time jobs and provide significant downstream benefits for associated industries while generating export earnings through the sustainable production of premium seafood.

“Four new working salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds will provide valuable employment opportunities within the community, while also attracting skilled labour to the region, to work across the spectrum of production – from farming to processing to marketing and business roles,” Mr Vitasovich said. . .

Final decision on King Salmon released by EPA

The EPA’s Board of Inquiry has issued its final decision on the King Salmon applications today, approving four out of nine salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds.

“An earlier draft decision announced that 5 of the 9 nine sites would be refused consent and approvals given for 4 sites. This final decision doesn’t change anything in that respect,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“We acknowledge that the Board has declined consent for 5 sites but it has not gone far enough.

“The areas the industrial scale consented farms are to be located in are highly natural and in prominent locations in the iconic and internationally renowned Marlborough Sounds. . .

Fonterra And A-Ware Food Group Confirm European Partnership:

New Zealand-based Fonterra and Netherlands-based A-ware Food Group have given the green light to develop a new cheese plant and dairy ingredients plant in Heerenveen in the north of the Netherlands.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings and A-ware Food Group CEO Jan Anker have today confirmed the partnership would proceed and signed a final agreement.

Under the agreement a greenfields site will be developed where A-ware will operate a cheese plant and Fonterra will operate a dairy ingredients plant alongside it. Cheese will be produced for A-ware’s customers in Europe and the whey and lactose produced will be processed into premium nutrition dairy ingredients for Fonterra’s global customer base. . .

Wools Of New Zealand Closes Capital Raise:

Wools of New Zealand has closed its capital raise with more than 700 applications for shares totalling approximately $6 million, representing approximately 14.5 million kilograms of annual strong wool production and a five-year marketing commitment.

As a 100% grower owned company, Wools of New Zealand is now positioned to drive its commercial, market-pull strategy, for the benefit of its shareholders.

Mark Shadbolt, chairman of Wools of New Zealand, said there had been a lot of late interest right up to the close of the offer. . .


Are they reading the same report?

November 28, 2012

Parliamentary Commissioenr for the Environment Jan Wright,  says that fracking can be done safely if well managed but raises concerns about the rules and safeguards surrounding the practice New Zealand.

“During the course of this investigation I have come to a similar conclusion to the Royal Society which is that fracking is safe if it is properly regulated and managed.

“However I have significant concerns about how fragmented and complicated the regulatory environment for fracking is and about how these rules are being applied.

“If fracking is not done well it can have significant environmental impacts including polluting water and triggering earthquakes.

“I am also concerned that regulation may be too light-handed, particularly if fracking opens the door to a large-scale and widespread oil and gas boom with a lot of different companies involved.

“These concerns form the basis of the next stage of my investigation into fracking which I hope to conclude before the middle of next year.”

That seems reasoned and reasonable but the responses make me wonder if people are reading the same report.

An alliance of 16 environmental groups, hapu and businesses have signed onto a joint statement, demanding a nationwide ban or moratorium on fracking.

The Environmental Defence Society says the report isn’t green light for fracking but is a timely wake-up call for early reform of fracking consenting and monitoring.

“This report reveals the complexities of fracking, the reliance on high quality environmental management to prevent pollution and the gaps in the present regulatory settings,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor. . .

Forest and Bird backs the commissioner’s caution:

Forest & Bird is urging the authorities to adopt a precautionary approach to fracking because much more needs to be known about its environmental impacts and how New Zealand should regulate the practice before approval for more fracking operations can be considered. . .

Straterra, the representative group for the minerals and mining industry, says Dr Wright has provided a much-needed common-sense approach to the debate:

“The minerals and mining sector – like all other industries – fully embraces the need to look after New Zealand water resources and our environment. Examples of fracking so far in New Zealand provide a pretty good track record of having done that.

“The industry deserves to be given the opportunity to submit on work carried out in New Zealand to show how they are protecting New Zealand’s environment as part of their everyday activities, and that is what the Commissioner is allowing to happen,” Mr Baker says.

“It is important that fracking, like any resource sector activity that impacts on the environment, is carried out to a high standard, and that we have good regulations in place for that activity. That said, fracking and new technologies have made a major positive impact on the availability and cost of energy elsewhere in the world.

“Economically, New Zealand can ill afford to turn its back on the opportunities fracking offers in energy security and increased wealth,” Mr Baker says. . .

Todd Energy also welcomes the report:

Todd Energy notes the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) high level conclusion that the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively provided operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation.

Todd Energy Chief Executive Paul Moore said the company welcomes the Commissioner’s report. “We would like to assure the public that Todd’s hydraulic fracturing operations are effectively designed and executed. . .

Federated Farmers says:

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) hydraulic fracturing investigation could reduce unease over the technique.

“Federated Farmers has kept an eye on the PCE investigation given land-based minerals exploration can often occur on or near to farmland,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers energy spokesperson.

“From what I have seen in the PCE’s interim report, she has taken a considered look at fracking. While hydraulic fracturing has been used in New Zealand since 1989, controversy has really only ignited over the past two years, if you excuse the pun.

“From agriculture’s perspective, we are most interested in land access issues and compensation. As well as what risks the technique may pose to ground and surface water.

“The PCE found the distance between where fracking occurs and aquifers can be as much as one to two kilometres. There are shallower fracks and I guess this underscores why the PCE recommends a watching brief.

“The PCE however believes that while contamination of ground or surface water is possible, the probability “is very unlikely”.

“After reading the PCE’s report, I can say that Federated Farmers feels more comfortable with the technique.

“The PCE stresses we frack well in New Zealand but describes regulation and oversight as “labyrinthine“. Clearly, there is a role for Government to ensure regulations are fit for purpose.

“Mining and minerals are important contributors to the economy and employment. Along with agriculture and utilities, mining is one of the few areas where we outperform Australia in terms of productivity,” Mr Crofoot concluded.

Caution and further investigation to ensure that best practice is required and adhered to is sensible.

But the report is clear there is not a case for a moratorium, although that hasn’t stopped those of a dark green and far left persuasion calling for one.


Land & Water Forum’s final report generally welcomed

November 16, 2012

The Land and Water Forum’s final report fleshes out the detail of a new consensus for a major reform of water laws and practices in New Zealand,”  Forum chair, Alastair Bisley, said.

“The breadth of this consensus provides a once in a generation chance to resolve the entrenched problems surrounding fresh water.”

The Forum is recommending integrated decision-making in catchments, continuous improvement of management practices and clearer rights to take and use water within set limits.

Mr Bisley said: “Our reports together provide a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to maximise opportunities from fresh water for us all – farmers and fishers, power generators and recreationalists, citizens and tourists, cities and industries.

We want to grow the economy and improve the environment. Our recommendations apply to both urban and rural catchments. They provide for iwi to play their role as Treaty Partners and stakeholders.

“We call for community decisions at catchment level – within national frameworks and bottom lines from central Government.”

The Forum proposes a collaborative approach at both national and catchment levels to set and implement objectives for waterways, prescribe limits for takes and discharges where these are required, and to find fair, efficient and accountable ways to implement the limits.

“The Forum believes all water quality solutions should be tailored to individual catchments,” said Mr Bisley.

“Good management practice by land and water users is the basic tool. Incentivising it is the preferred approach. Regions are accountable for managing within limits. Industry schemes, catchment-wide initiatives and regulation may all help to ensure the limits are achieved within the agreed timeframes.

“Water available for users once limits have been set should be allocated with long-term economic welfare in mind.

“All authorised takes should be brought progressively within the allocation system.

“As catchments become fully allocated, consents should be clarified and strengthened to preserve their value. Water should be made more easily transferable between users while limits are preserved.” . . .

He described the report as a once in a generation opportunity :

 . . . While there were some notable non-signatories to the outcomes of the four year experiment in consensus decision-making, the forum managed to get 95 percent of its 60-plus members from industry, local government, iwi, environmental groups, recreational users and farmers across the line on 67 recommendations.

Among signatories are the national farming lobby, Federated Farmers, although their objection to any system requiring water rents saw the forum make no recommendation in that area.

The system it promotes would see the government establish national guidelines and standards for freshwater catchment management, which would be used by regional councils as the foundation for collaborative processes at a local level to establish “scarcity thresholds” for freshwater resources. . .

Dairy NZ has welcomed the report:

DairyNZ says the key to setting and managing to water quality limits is collaborative decision-making at a catchment level.

Commenting today on the release of the final Land and Water Forum (LAWF) report, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton says, “We recognise, as the LAWF report does, that this kind of community-driven catchment process needs to become the centre of water quality and quantity management.

“That is how we will make a difference to water quality – catchment by catchment across the country. Communities understand that, because people can relate any impact to the place where they live and work and their local waterway, so will take some ownership of the actions.”

He says that dairy farmers are already involved in these kinds of processes throughout New Zealand. . .

Beef + Lamb New Zealand Welcomes Third Land And Water Forum Report:

The final report from the Land and Water Forum strikes a balance between preservation and production, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

As a member of the forum we sought recognition for sheep and beef farmers as stewards of our rural land, while preserving opportunities for those who manage water sustainably.

It has been a long and complex process, says Beef + Lamb New Zealand Western North Island Farmer Director, Kirsten Bryant. “But, ultimately, one in which the voices of water users of all different types have been heard and in which we have all worked together for the good of all of New Zealand.”

She welcomed the emphasis throughout the process on local people making local decisions, within a national framework. . .

Meridian Energy also welcomes the report:

Meridian Energy today welcomed the release of the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF’s) third report.

Chief Executive Mark Binns congratulated the Forum for pulling together a complex and diverse group of water interests.

“There are a range of views on the right approach to manage New Zealand’s fresh water resources. This forum has enabled all parties to put their views on the table,” says Mr Binns.

“Recognition should go to Chair Alistair Bisley and all Forum members for their four year collaboration. The result is three quality reports that will help improve water management for New Zealand.”

The water allocation report marks the conclusion of the Forum’s work. “LAWF’s collaboration provides an opportunity for making positive change to the way New Zealand manages its water. This framework is capable of protecting the environment and enabling economic growth,” says Mr Binns.  . .

Business NZ says the recommendations are positive:

The third report of the Land and Water Forum brings useful recommendations for improving New Zealand’s freshwater management, says BusinessNZ.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said water was essential for many business activities which drive New Zealand’s economy and on which many New Zealanders rely for employment and income growth.

“Businesses require the confidence to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects knowing their rights to use water are clearly understood and secure.

“Investors are risk averse and any changes in the right to take or use water over time need to be clearly understood.

“It is important that transfer and trade in water rights are facilitated to the extent possible allowing water to move to its highest valued use, without unnecessary restrictions from regulators.”

Fish and Game says cherry picking would derail a water clean up:

Fish & Game NZ says the release of the third and final Land and Water Forum (LWF) report will only have an impact on improving freshwater management if the Government accepts all of the Forum’s recommendations, which are interconnected, and not pick and choose those which suit.

In these three reports the Government now has the bones of a blueprint – reached by consensus – for how to manage the public water resource, says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“All three reports must be treated as a package deal,” he says. “LWF’s second report recommended the need for a national objectives framework for water quality but the Government took it upon itself to develop these outside the forum framework. We’ve never had reasonable justification for that decision, which is odd given all the expertise was around the LWF table.

“LWF has been deliberating on these issues to reach a consensus for fouryears now and during that time freshwater quality and quantity has continued to deteriorate,” says Mr Johnson. . .

Federated Farmers supports the recommendations:

“Despite what is said at times about our environment, we must never forget we still enjoy some of the highest quality water on earth,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water and environment spokesman.

“LawF recommendations are about setting a pathway to protect and over time, improve our already high water quality. It is about better managing our most precious natural resource to fulfil our social, economic, environmental and cultural needs.

“Farmers support this aspiration and Federated Farmers is committed to playing our part in achieving it.

“We know the way we farm will need to change. Perhaps what needs to be fully understood is that change is also needed beyond agriculture. LawF covers all water, rural or urban, so we are all in this together.

“At the heart of LawF recommendations is for communities to adopt a collaborative process in setting water quality limits. This mirrors the one we have gone through on LawF itself. It is a very good way to understand issues in depth.

“Any collaborative process must be genuinely informed by what limits mean for individual communities. It is about striking a balance between what is feasible and what is not.

“Federated Farmers does take issue with some regional councils rushing to set limits. This fails to inform or involve the community in what will affect jobs, a community’s standard of living, or for that matter, its makeup.

“There are also some local councils who believe they ought to be exempted because they cannot achieve limit objectives and therefore, shouldn’t have to. It is the kind of thinking some farmers may have harboured decades ago, but not now.

“For agriculture, the regulatory process should embed Good Management Practice (GMP), the inclusion of farm environmental plans and where appropriate, Audited Self Management (ASM).

“Good Management Practice provides a holistic way to address water quality issues than the nitrate myopic approach suggested by many regional councils.

“Good Management Practice should further help communities decide where limits should be set, so as not to cause social and economic damage. I guess this is about empowering communities to find the right balance.

“LawF recommendations are a roadmap and Federated Farmers supports them,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

Te Wai Maori Trust says the report is a practical and sensible solution to fresh water management:

New Zealand’s future as a leading primary sector producer as well as our nation’s 100% Pure New Zealand brand depends on our ability to sustainably manage the valuable fresh water resource. The third report of the Land and Water Forum (LAWF), released today, provides a responsible yet practical way forward to freshwater management, the Te Wai Maori Trust says.

Te Wai Maori Chairman Ken Mair today called on the Government to implement the recommendations, which found that iwi rights and interests must be resolved for any freshwater management regime to be stable and durable in the future.

“There are a range of competing uses for fresh water throughout the country – from dairying to crop farming, urban demands to tourism uses. But the Government will not be able to resolve them in a durable manner until it engages with iwi over Maori rights and interests in fresh water,” Mr Mair said. . .

Regional councils say the report cements their role:

Chair of the regional sector group Fran Wilde said the report cements the role of regional councils in managing New Zealand’s freshwater resource and highlights the need for a more supportive national framework for collaborative decision-making.

“Regional councils are at the forefront of water management and use a variety of methods to manage and enhance water quality,” said Ms Wilde.

“There is strong support among councils for collaborative decision-making regarding water quality management and we have a number of successful examples of this in action.” . .

Environmental Defence Society endorses Land and Water Forum Report:

The release of the third and final report from the Land and Water Forum has been welcomed and endorsed by the Environmental Defence Society.

The Forum originated at the 2008 EDS Conference where an initial support group from a wide range of interests, including farming and environmental, agreed to try and find a better way of managing freshwater.

“It’s been a long road since then, with the Government getting behind the exercise and the core group expanding to include representation from all key stakeholders and from iwi. Four years on there is now a package of measures that need to be taken together and implemented by Government,” said EDS Chair Gary Taylor. . .

However, Irrigation NZ says last minute changes weaken the report:

IrrigationNZ says last minute changes to the Land and Water Forum’s Third Report, ‘Managing Within Limits’, have weakened its integrity.

“IrrigationNZ has spent the past year collaborating in good faith to reach agreement on how water quantity and quality is best managed in NZ. A package that provided a sound platform to support sustainable future growth in New Zealand had been produced. However, last minute changes, particularly to the water allocation section, mean IrrigationNZ now questions whether the Land & Water Forum is the collaborative consensus- based process it claims to be?” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

While Mr Curtis says there are many positives within the final report, including the need for; community-driven catchment-based water management; industry ‘Good Management Practice’ as the preferred route; development of community water infrastructure to address over-allocation; and a move to plan-led water management – IrrigationNZ has major concerns about parts of the water allocation chapter.

Certainty is the key if irrigators are to invest in sustainability. Irrigators need long-duration consents and an explicit right of renewal,” says Curtis. “Short durations and uncertainty of renewal will produce reactive and high- risk thinking which creates scenarios prohibitive to capital investment. If the community wants environmental gains without job losses or food price increases, then New Zealand must implement a resource management system that allows for long-term investment and thinking.”

There is also a need for community-driven water infrastructure solutions to be consented for over 50 years. This would improve the viability of initial and on-going capital investment. In return for this, IrrigationNZ agrees consents need to adapt in a timely manner to environmental limit changes. “This is the most logical package for water allocation,” says Curtis. Having recently returned from an overseas study tour of irrigation developments in the UK, Israel and Australia he says, “It is also consistent with water allocation internationally.”

“Irrigators have committed to more sustainable farming practices. Certainty, long-term thinking and catchment-based water management are the only way water quality and quantity objectives set by the wider community will be achieved in New Zealand.”

The full report can be downloaded  here.


Rural round-up

May 26, 2012

Reward for consistency – Rebecca Harper:

The accolade of Producer of the Decade was bestowed upon them at the 2012 Steak of Origin grand final, but for Angus breeders Chris and Karren Biddles, it was the reward for consistently producing a quality product.

“We like to breed good product and sell good product,” Chris Biddles sums up the philosophy that has seen Te Atarangi Angus named Producer of the Decade.

Chris and his wife Karren farm just under 1000 hectares on the Pouto Peninsula, near Dargaville in Northland, and have been long time supporters of beef cattle breeding in New Zealand. . .

Plenty of bull topped off with a great feed – Jon Morgan:

Aaaaah, Beef Expo. First to assail the senses is the smell. Bullshit and coffee.

Then it’s the noise. Over the low roar of farmers discussing the weather is the enraged bellowing of caged bulls. And somewhere in the distance a tormented soul is shouting out the same number over and over again.

He’s auctioneer Bruce Orr. “I bid 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000 dollars. I’ve got 4000 to bid, 4000, 4000, 4000, 4000.” And so on at break-tongue speed.

Later, I count him and he gets close to 100 times repeating the same number before a bidder takes pity on him and raises him $200. Then it starts again.

It’s my annual immersion in the world of beef breeding. . .

Shear joy for wool industry -

As a young girl growing up on Mt Nicholas Station, at the head of Lake Wakatipu, Kate Cocks was used to a life of uncertainty. Her parents, Lynda and Robert Butson, were high-country merino farmers, their extensive 100,000-acre property spreading from the edge of the lake to the tops of the distant peaks.

“Twenty years ago our wool cheque could vary from $300,000 one year to $1.2 million the next,” says Cocks, who is now the manager of Mt Nicholas Station. . .

Clicking on the link above will take you to a video.

Forum hailed for brdiging troubled waters – Jon Morgan:

 If I could meet the 80 people representing the 60 organisations and five iwi that make up the Land and Water Forum, I would ask them to turn their backs. Then I would give each one a well-deserved pat.

That’s unlikely, so I’ll do it in print. What these people have achieved, and are still to achieve, is awe-inspiring.

Formed four years ago under the leadership of environmental advocates Gary Taylor and Guy Salmon, the forum now includes the representatives of everyone with a stake in the sustainability of our freshwater resource – a remarkable achievement. . .

Dairy expansion pushes cow total to more than 6 million -Annette Scott:

Dairy expansion in the South Island has driven the national dairy herd to over six million while fewer lambs and breeding ewes saw sheep numbers take another tumble in 2011, according to the latest agricultural production survey.

Final results from the 2011 survey show a continued increase in the national dairy herd. An increase of 259,000 dairy cattle brought the number to 6.17m, up 4.4% from 2010.

More cattle were kept for milk production and future replacement, a result of the high payout and strong international demand for dairy products. The national milking herd was 4.82m, 136,000 more than in 2010. . .

The rise and importance of the US dairy industry – Xcheque:

If you have been watching the dairy industry news over the past month you will have noted a growing nervousness about the state of international dairy commodity markets and the flow on effects of this at farmgate.

It certainly appears that there is a gathering storm, one brought about by the over-exuberance of the global dairy traders. 7 billion litres of extra milk production in 2011 from the EU, US, NZ and Argentina, and no sign of the growth rate easing in the first two months of 2012. Domestic demand growth from these countries is typically less than 1% or about 2 billion litres – the balance needs to go onto world markets. Is this possible?

Not if history is a guide. . .

Ray of hope for dairy industry:

New Zealand dairy farmers are expected to be on average 42,000 dollars worse off this season following yesterday’s announcement by Fonterra that it has to cut its milk payout forecast because of softening global dairy prices.

But a New Zealand product gaining increasing attention in the United States could help offset those losses.

Queen of Calves was invented on a Manawatu family farm and promises to raise milk production by 18 per cent. . .

Southland TB campaigner wins deer industry award:

Retiring TBfree Southland Committee member Kevin Gilmour has been awarded the prestigious Matuschka Award by the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association.

Kevin has been associated with the TBfree committee for 20 years. Until recently, he ran a successful deer farm on the edge of the Hokonui Hills, while working tirelessly to communicate, advocate and support the national bovine tuberculosis (TB) control programme in Southland.

“The award came as a very nice surprise. However, I can’t emphasis enough how important the support and technical expertise of the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Association and TBfree committee has been in achieving our objectives,” he said. . .

Farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum to set the agenda:

Hard on the heels of the Land & Water Forum report, Federated Farmers has taken the lead by convening a farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum.  Taking place at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre on 7 June, it gives all farmers a chance to see what the future holds.

“This Water Forum is very much a forum for farmers by farmers.  It’s about looking at water and environmental stewardship through fresh eyes,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

“It’s so important that ATS is helping us put it together.  It’s about issues, yes, but it’s about practical solutions farmers can take inside the farmgate. . .


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,411 other followers

%d bloggers like this: