Drought’s official

February 13, 2015

This summer has been like those I remember as a child with day after day of hot, sunny weather.

Those were summers when we were plagued by drought just like this one, which is now official:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has today officially declared the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island as being a medium-scale adverse event.

“This is recognition of the extreme dry conditions farmers and growers are facing, and triggers additional Government support,” says Mr Guy.

The areas affected cover parts of Otago, Canterbury and the Marlborough District.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries has been monitoring the conditions very closely over recent months. Most farmers have coped so far by destocking and using feed supplies, and most will not need extra support. However it’s clear that conditions are only going to get tougher as the seasons change and we need to prepare now.

This week local groups, including Rural Support Trusts and Federated Farmers, have acknowledged the need of medium scale recovery measures to deal with the consequence of the drought.

“Extra Government funding will now be available to Rural Support Trusts who work closely with farmers, providing support and guidance.

“Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs) will also be made available in the next few months. These will be available from Work and Income, through the Ministry of Social Development. They are equivalent to the Jobseeker Support benefit and are available to those in extreme hardship.

“It’s important to note that support is already available from Government agencies in all regions. Farmers should contact IRD if they need help or flexibility with making tax payments, and standard hardship assistance is available from Work and Income.

“Federated Farmers have started their feedline to coordinate supplies, and it’s pleasing to see some banks offering special packages.”

Mr Guy made the announcement today at Opuha Dam in South Canterbury which will run dry in the next few weeks without decent rainfall.

“Many rural people can be reluctant to ask for help, but it is important for them to know that support is available.”

Mr Guy says the Government is also keeping a very close eye on Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay which are also suffering from very dry conditions.

What are the criteria for declaring a medium scale adverse event?

  • There are three levels of ‘adverse events’ – localised, medium and national. These can cover events like drought, floods, fire, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • The criteria for assessing the scale of an adverse event are:
    • Options available for the community to prepare for and recover from the event;  
    • Magnitude of the event (likelihood and scale of physical impact), and;
    • Capacity of the community to cope economically and socially impact.

Stuart Smith MP's photo.

Stuart Smith MP's photo.

 

The declaration reinforces the case for more water storage:

Today’s official declaration that the drought conditions on the east coast of the South Island are a medium-scale adverse event strengthens the argument for further national investment in regional water storage, says IrrigationNZ.

“The only way to prevent communities suffering drought in dry summers is through storing alpine water. We do not need to wait for rivers to run dry, for fish to die and for communities to panic. New Zealand has plentiful supply which flows out to sea; we just need to get better at banking water and getting it to the needy places,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

“The official declaration of drought shows that extended dry weather has a significant impact in New Zealand despite its high levels of rainfall. It means that farmers and communities need help.

“We need to make 2015 the year New Zealand finally learns from drought and gets on with building regional-scale water storage to prevent local distress. There are several projects in the pipeline around the country but they need significant community, business and government support to proceed. This South Canterbury drought will cost New Zealanders millions. It’s time we bit the bullet and had a national conversation around how we manage drought,” says Mr Curtis.

“Water storage and irrigation will allow New Zealand to survive climatic variations like extended dry spells which scientists tell us are on the increase, particularly for those of us living in eastern New Zealand. Drought takes away not only income from farmers; it strips whole communities of water for everything from boating to gardening, tourism businesses that rely on healthy river flows to fish struggling to survive in parched streams. Water storage is not just about propping up irrigation; it supplements all of these community values”, says Mr Curtis.

 

 

We’re insulated from the worst affects of drought at home thanks to North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme, fed from the Waitaki River, which is 99% reliable.

But many dairy farmers rely on dryland farms for winter feed and grazing, both of which will be in tight supply.

Irrigation schemes in other areas are restricting takes and some have had to stop all irrigation.

Dairy farms relying on irrigation have reduced milking and many will have to dry-off cows soon,  more than three months early.

The economic impact of the drought will hit the small businesses which service and supply farms too.

There’s now sufficient, reliable irrigation in North Otago to keep grass and crops growing on many farms and reduce the downstream impact on the local community.

More water storage would give other areas that protection too.


Rural round-up

January 29, 2015

Irrigating farmers need to optimise every drop to stave off drought, says IrrigationNZ:

Irrigating farmers need to pull out all the stops to ensure they are optimising every drop of water as the irrigation season may shut down six weeks earlier than usual in some parts of New Zealand threatening the viability of crops and winter feed supply for stock, says IrrigationNZ.

Earlier forecasts that Lake Opuha in South Canterbury may sustain irrigation until the end of February are now being revisited. “The sustained dry conditions have reduced flows across the catchment and increased pressure on our storage prompting us to review the forecast for the lake. Both river flows and irrigation will suffer when we run out of storage,” says Opuha Water Ltd CEO Tony McCormick. . .

Breakfast table a start for sheep milk - Craig Prichard:

While New Zealand can still boast the highest number of sheep per head of population, you will go a long way to buy a litre of ewe milk for your cornflakes or latte. Why is that?

Why is there virtually no liquid sheep milk for sale in New Zealand supermarkets? And why is there virtually no sheep dairying industry?

It’s not for want of trying. Groups of farmers and scientists had a go in the 1980s and late 1990s. A couple of today’s five commercial producers are survivors from the 1990s.

But these operators are hardly a pimple on the side of New Zealand’s dairy cow or sheep meat industries. . .

Otago/Southland kicks off ANZ Young Farmer Contest Regional Finals

The first of seven Grand Finalists will be determined next weekend, Saturday 7 February as Otago/Southland starts the 2015 Regional Finals for the ANZ Young Farmer Contest in Queenstown.

“This contest season is shaping up to be very impressive, every year the calibre of contestants continues to impress,” says Terry Copeland, Chief Executive of New Zealand Young Farmers – organisers of the event.

The eight finalists are contending for a spot at the Grand Final in Taupo 2 – 4 July and their share of an impressive prize pack worth over $271,000 in products, services and scholarships from ANZ, FMG, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone. . .

Initiative offers free cow condition assessments:

Northland herds have the opportunity this season to be part of the DairyNZ body condition score (BCS) initiative which will see certified BCS assessors provide free body condition score assessments.

“Farmers, researchers and advisers all agree that getting cows in the right condition at calving is critical for milk production and reproductive performance – two key drivers of farm profitability,” says DairyNZ developer – productivity, Sally Peel.

“Yet every year we see large numbers of cows calving at below target condition and consequently achieving below potential production and profitability.” . . .

New Zealand’s Top Restaurants and Chefs Revealed:

The top restaurants and chefs in the nation were revealed at a long lunch held at the prestigious Kelliher Estate on Puketutu Island today, after months of assessment by culinary trained experts.

163 restaurants from across New Zealand received the 2015 Beef and Lamb Excellence Award, recognising the highest quality, most skilfully composed and superbly presented beef and lamb cuisine.

2015 marks the 19th year of the Awards, making them the country’s longest running culinary award programme and one which is highly regarded within the industry. . .

 International experts bring change:

After a horror year for fatalities in 2013, New Zealand’s forest industry performed superbly in 2014, both in terms of safety and wood production. Credit has to go to the people on the forest floor who had a chance to get their voice heard through the Independent Forest Safety Review and ask for changes to be made for ensuring workplaces in forestry could be safer for everyone.

As part of the sweeping changes coming to the forestry workplace, the ) is committed to ensuring forestry people have access to the best safety thinkers. This is the key to bring change to ensure safe workplaces continue to be achieved for forestry in coming months and years. Forestry’s initial paradigm shift came from change agents who brought new ideas to forestry health and safety. More change agents are set to bring lasting change. . .

New website signifies a united front by manufactures of possum products:

The New Zealand Fur Council today launched it’s website: www.furcouncil.org.nz. The website signifies a united front by manufactures of possum fur products in New Zealand.

New Zealand Fur Council Chairman Neil Mackie says: “The possum fur industry is a growing industry already worth $130 million to the New Zealand economy annually. It’s important that people understand the industry, its contribution and potential for growth. This website for the New Zealand Fur Council is about collaboration and making sure there is a balanced view in regards to possum fur and harvesting. Given the general public’s concern for animal welfare and conservation it is important facts and science are at the forefront of any debate.”

In June 2013 in an update on the use of 1080 poison to kill possums the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment recommended the Minister of Conservation ask the Department of Conservation to prioritise the development of national policy and operational procedures on possum fur harvesting. . .

 


Drought reinforces need for storage

January 8, 2015

We woke to mizzle – a misty drizzle – on Tuesday morning.

Holiday-makers wouldn’t have been pleased but we were delighted.

However, by mid-morning the sky had cleared and temperatures were rising.

We haven’t had a decent rain since July and it’s got all the signs of the droughts which in North Otago every few years.

Irrigation schemes using water from the Waitaki River have 99% reliability but takes from the Kakanui River are restricted and will stop altogether if the weather doesn’t break soon.

Further north in South Canterbury it’s drier still.

Less snow melt put less water in the Opuha Dam in spring and those irrigating from it are now on restrictions.

Friends near Waimate ran out of stock water weeks ago and the tanker which comes to collect their milk brings water for them.

There is nothing new about drought but the recurrence reinforces the need for more water storage:

Water restrictions for irrigating farmers look set to follow a similar pattern to the 2012-13 summer, says IrrigationNZ, when drought conditions in the North and South Island wiped more than $1billion dollars from the NZ economy.

“This summer once again highlights the need to fast track alpine-fed* water storage infrastructure in both the South and North Islands. Despite the focus upon irrigation development over the past five years, New Zealand has made very limited progress in this space,” says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis. “We have modernised and improved our irrigation distribution systems but have failed to invest in alpine water storage to our detriment.”

(*Alpine-fed water storage refers to dams and water storage lakes that are replenished by rainfall and snowmelt within our alpine environments in contrast to streams and rivers that are fed by foothills rainfall. Alpine rainfall is more consistent and plentiful than foothills and plains rainfall, hence its suitability to provide reliable water supply).

‘We’re losing sight of the prize that reliable alpine-fed irrigation water storage could bring to both the environment and economy. Certainty of water supply allows investment in SMART irrigation technologies that greatly improve nutrient management and production. There are also direct benefits from storage including the augmentation of summer river flows or being able to release flushing flows that cleanse rivers of summer algal growth,” says Mr Curtis.

Irrigation restrictions are now widespread in Canterbury and Otago, with Hawke’s Bay dry but maintaining flows.

One of the worst hit areas is South Canterbury with the Opuha Dam, a foothill-fed river catchment, facing unprecedented water shortages. Opuha’s lake level is of major concern, says Opuha Water Supply Ltd CEO Tony McCormick. “Our situation and outlook have not improved and the lake level continues to drop steadily. Today the lake is at 31% full. We are currently on 25% irrigation restrictions and expect to move to 50% restrictions next week when the lake hits another ‘trigger’ level of 25% full. Our current predictions suggest that the lake could be fully depleted by the end of February.”

Mr McCormick says while the initial problem was a lack of stored water, the situation is now being compounded by very dry conditions being experienced across the South Canterbury region.

The Ashburton River is on full restriction which has forced the Ashburton Lyndhurst Irrigation Company to place shareholders on 85% allocation. However the Rangitata River is currently flowing at a healthy level due to good rainfall in the alps over the New Year, says Jess Dargue, ALIC scheme manager.

While some North Canterbury rivers are on restriction, Amuri Irrigation Limited CEO Andrew Barton says both the Waiau and Hurunui, both alpine rivers, are maintaining flows so scheme restrictions look unlikely in the near future.

While there are no restrictions on major irrigation schemes in the Lower Waitaki at the moment, all fed by the Waitaki River, an alpine river with storages built for hydropower, Elizabeth Soal, Policy Manager of the Waitaki Irrigators Collective says partial restrictions affecting independent irrigators are in effect on hill-fed tributary rivers including the Hakataramea, the Maerewhenua and the Awakino. There are also restrictions (some full restrictions) on some of the South Canterbury Coastal streams and waterways, including parts of the Waihao River, Buchanans Creek and the Sir Charles Creek.

In Otago, supplementary permits off the Kakanui River have ceased with the first minimum flow alert being active, and the river is approaching its absolute minimum flow, which would mean full restrictions kick-in.

Parts of North Otago are extremely dry, with the area receiving a third of the historical average rainfall since August.

“For us down here, it’s much, much drier than in 2012-13. Some are saying it’s the driest it’s been in ten years, so the restrictions will bite even harder,” says Elizabeth Soal.

While the Hawke’s Bay is dry, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Group Manager Resource Management Iain Maxwell, says that’s not unexpected for the region at this time of the year and irrigation water availability is being maintained.

“River flows are holding well and there are no irrigation bans on the main rivers so farmers are still able to irrigate,” he says.

Drought is costly in financial and human terms. It also degrades water quality, threatens water life and can lead to soil erosion.

Drought is a fact of life for farming on the east coast but the consequences of it would be minimised with more storage to capture the excess at times of high flow for use for farming and maintaining minimum flows in water ways during droughts.


Rural round-up

December 20, 2014

More accurate picture of ‘actual’ water use emerging:

A more accurate picture of ‘actual’ water use in Canterbury is emerging as growing numbers of the region’s irrigating farmers provide water monitoring data to Environment Canterbury, says IrrigationNZ.

The regional council’s 2013/14 Water Use Report includes data from more than 50% (50.4%) of all consented surface water and groundwater takes in the region. Last year’s report contained water monitoring data from less than 40% of Canterbury’s takes abstracting water at a rate of 5 litres per second or more.

“That leap alone shows significant progress is being made. Farmers are getting the message that they need to install water metering systems, not just for compliance, but to improve their irrigation efficiency and nutrient management. Now we have more than 50% of Canterbury’s water takes being monitored we’re getting closer to a true picture of ‘actual’ water use based on real-time data that farmers are willingly providing,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. . .

 Helping other women to take up leadership – Sue O’Dowd:

A desire to help other women reach their potential motivated a New Plymouth vet to join a programme to develop her leadership skills.

Andrea Murray has just graduated from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust’s (AWDT) escalator programme established in 2010 to boost the leadership and governance of women in agriculture. A total of 53 women have graduated since it was set up.

She undertook the 10-month programme to develop her networks and to improve her governance and leadership. “I’ve achieved that and I’m really pleased,” she said.

She was impressed by the level of support the programme’s 14 participants received.

“We were challenged in a way that made sure they got the best out of us. The programme has clarified for me where I can best contribute to the primary industries in New Zealand.” . . .

New reports show value of growing Māori agribusiness:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has released two reports today showing good progress in developing the potential of Māori agribusiness.

“These reports confirm the importance of partnering with Iwi, Māori asset owners, local communities and industry, and show very promising results,” says Mr Guy.

“A report by Kinnect Group evaluates the Government’s work to build partnerships with Māori asset owners, a core part of MPI’s Māori Agribusiness programme. The aim is to help owners make informed decisions on improving their assets by connecting them with the right skills and knowledge.

“This has involved a range of projects covering different property sizes, land-holding structures and uses. The evaluation found the programme made a “valuable and worthwhile contribution”. . .

Forestry opportunities in Maori Agribusiness:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has welcomed the release of a report highlighting the economic opportunities for forestry through more productive use of Māori freehold land.

The report ‘Growing the Productive Base of Māori Freehold Land – further evidence and analysis’ was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries and identifies the potential economic gains from improving the performance of Māori freehold land at regional and national levels.

“By utilising underused land and increasing productivity Māori freehold land has the potential to contribute to an increase in GDP of $1.2 billion between now and 2055,” Mrs Goodhew says. . .

NZ dairy and deer through to agri-business award finals:

Two New Zealand farm managers have made it through to the finals of the inaugural Zanda McDonald Award – a trans-Tasman agri-business initiative created by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group.

Twenty nine year old Athol New, Farm Business Manager of Synlait’s Dunsandel Dairies based in Rakaia, and Luke Wright, 32, Farm Manager of Landcorp Farming’s Stuart Farm, Te Anau, Southland, have been invited to the PPP annual conference in Darwin in June 2015 – where the award recipient will be announced.

They will be joined by third finalist, 27 year old Emma Hegarty, Beef Extension Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) in Queensland, Australia. . .

New PGP Investment Advisory Panel members:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced three new members of the Primary Growth Partnership’s independent Investment Advisory Panel (IAP).

The three new members are primary industry and business specialist Barry Brook, experienced businessman Harry Burkhardt, and entrepreneur Melissa Clark-Reynolds.

“The IAP plays a crucial role in the success of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) that aims to boost the value, productivity and profitability of our primary industries,” says Mr Guy. 

“IAP members are responsible for using their expertise and judgement to advise on decisions about the investment of PGP funds, and to help ensure that PGP investments are supporting the overall aims of economic growth and sustainability. . .

 

LIC announces joint venture with Brazilian distributor:

LIC has purchased the majority interest of its Brazilian genetics distributor, NZ Brasil Genetics Producao Animal Ltda.

The joint venture (JV) includes exclusive supply of the farmer-owned co-operative’s dairy genetics for an initial period of 10 years, through a new entity called LIC NZBrasil.

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee said the co-op began exporting genetics to Brazil in 1999, but the new JV will seek to deliver a better return to farmer shareholders in New Zealand.

“Brazil is the fifth largest dairy industry in the world, with more than 23 million dairy cows. Huge growth is expected over the next 10 years and this presents a significant opportunity for LIC, and our shareholders. . . .

 

 


Rural round-up

November 6, 2014

Farmers flock to Ruataniwha meeting:

IrrigationNZ says it is heartened by the support from Hawke’s Bay farmers and growers who attended it’s ‘It’s Now or Never’ Ruataniwha meeting last night, jointly hosted with Federated Farmers in Waipawa, Hawke’s Bay.

Over 250 turned up to hear the ‘real life’ scenarios presented by South Island farmers with experience of irrigation development, says IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis.

“We had farmers from Canterbury and Otago breaking down how they make irrigation pay and what it’s done for their farming operations. They weren’t large scale dairy farmers either. Rab McDowell and Nick Webster showed how sheep finishing, beef, cropping and speciality seed, alongside dairy support operations can all benefit from reliable irrigation. Local irrigators, Arthur Rowlands and Hugh Ritchie also spoke on how and why they would make it work for them.” . .

Canterbury irrigation project making progress –  Kloe Palmer

The company behind a massive South Island irrigation scheme has unveiled the first stage of a project which will transform a swathe of dry Canterbury land for intensive agricultural production.

The huge project near Hororata will take most of its water from the Rakaia River, irrigating more than 60,000 hectares of farmland.

Huge pipes will eventually form a 130km-long underground network, which will be fed from a main trunk-like canal.

It’s still under construction, but soon water from the river will be flowing through it. . .

Dutch and NZ food innovation link:

Greater links between food innovation companies in this country and with those in the Netherlands is being predicted by the head of a Dutch food innovation network.

Roger van Hoesel from Food Valley Netherlands was in this country to attend the Manawatu Agrifood Business Forum.

He was being hosted by FoodHQ, a cluster of New Zealand food innovation organisations.

Mr van Hoesel said because the Netherlands and New Zealand were similar, collaboration would work. . .

New Zealand and Sri Lanka strengthen ties through milk and cricket:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has finished the first leg of a six day mission to Sri Lanka and India this week, promoting trade and New Zealand’s co-hosting of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015.

Mr Guy met with President Rajapaksa and several Sri Lankan Ministers over the last two days.

“Our two countries are building a stronger relationship through the New Zealand-Sri Lanka Dairy Cooperation Arrangement (DCA). The DCA is our commitment to the development of Sri Lanka’s dairy industry,” says Mr Guy.

“New Zealand has one of the world’s most efficient dairy industries, and a lot of valuable expertise to share with Sri Lankan dairy producers.

“There are only 280,000 cows in Sri Lanka compared with 5 million in New Zealand and they are keen to improve their productivity. Genetics, animal husbandry, feeding techniques and technology can all play a part in this.” . .

Minister congratulates conservation innovators:

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has congratulated the winners of the inaugural Conservation Innovation Awards.

The World Wildlife Fund Conservation Innovation Awards were presented at a ceremony in Wellington last night. The awards recognise innovative approaches to conservation issues.

Ms Barry presented the inaugural award to inventor Gian Badraun and Microsystems Research for their product ‘Trap Minder’, an early response system for monitoring predator traps and bait stations.

“I’m very impressed by how inventive and forward-thinking these solutions are in their practical approach to tackling key conservation issues, including the threat of ‘eco-invaders’ to New Zealand’s biodiversity,” says Ms Barry. . .

Challenge to return more value to the farm gate – West Otago grazier heads to global agri master class:

Learning how sheep and beef farmers in other parts of the world are tackling the challenge of “delivering more value back to the farmgate” will be high on the agenda for West Otago livestock farmer Nelson Hancox when he attends a gathering of leading international farmers in Australia this week.

Mr Hancox, a sheep and cattle producer from Kowai Downs, near Tapanui in the South Island, is among five leading New Zealand farmers selected to participate in the Rabobank Global Farmers Master Class, which commences in Victoria later this week.

The week-long Master Class will see 40 progressive farmers from across the globe gather to share ideas and information on the future of farming and participate in the educational program. . .


Water tax ludicrous and detrimental – IrrigationNZ

September 11, 2014

IrrigationNZ says the Green party’s water tax is ludicrous and detrimental:

. . . “Introducing a water tax will be ludicrous and detrimental for the country,” says Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO. “The only robust and long term solution to restoring waterways is on a case-by-case basis engaging local communities to find solutions.”

IrrigationNZ agrees with the Green Party and with the National Party that stock must be excluded from waterways, riparian margins established and nutrients and contaminants need to be managed.

In addition, pest plant and fish species also have to be controlled to restore the natural habitat and most importantly – water storage and irrigation infrastructure needs to be developed within limits.

“If irrigation becomes too costly fewer farmers will implement it and water storage infrastructure will not be developed,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ Chair. “It would be foolish for New Zealand not to capture its most valuable resource, the world’s most valuable resource, just for the sake of punishing farmers.”

IrrigationNZ would like to re-iterate the following points:

• A water tax will lead to increased food prices and is inflationary

• In no other country in the world is there an irrigation tax

• In all other countries irrigation is considered a socio economic tool and is funded centrally

• The Green’s policy called: Smart Farming for Clean Rivers – ignores that some of the most polluted waterways are urban ones due to sewerage problems

• A water tax on irrigators is not equitable, all users if water, industrial and hydro electricity plants should be included

• A water tax as Green and Labour want to implement will not prevent land intensification – it will instead encourage it – farmers will have to seek higher returns to justify the increased cost of their water

• The water policies do not define what kind of ‘irrigation’ is taxable, or what size of water take is taxable

• A water tax will reduce money available for farmers to continue mitigating environmental impacts through new technology and nutrient management systems

• Irrigators are already spending billions of dollars of private investment improving our waterways

IrrigationNZ is committed to finding a way for New Zealand to develop sustainably managed irrigation schemes within acceptable environmental limits.

“Water is our most valuable renewable resource and we believe that irrigation in New Zealand is essential to protect against climatic variations and to enhance the country’s ability to feed its population and to contribute to feeding the world,” says Mr Curtis.

The Green policy is anti-farming, anti productivity and will penalise the majority of irrigators who farm responsibly to clean up after the minority who don’t.

 


$100m freshwater fund

September 4, 2014

A re-elected National-led Government will spend $100 million over 10 years to buy and retire selected areas of farmland next to important waterways to create an environmental buffer that helps improve water quality.

National will also introduce a mandatory requirement to exclude dairy cattle from waterways.

National’s Environment Spokeswoman, Amy Adams, and Primary Industries spokesman Nathan Guy made the announcement at the Waituna Lagoon in Southland with Prime Minister and National Party Leader John Key today.

“New Zealand’s freshwater makes us an incredibly lucky country. We have over 400,000 kilometres of rivers and more than 4,000 lakes,” Ms Adams says.

“New Zealand’s water is among the very best in the world and we want to keep it that way. These are the next steps in our considered and sensible plan to continual improvements in freshwater quality.

“We are particularly committed to improving the quality of our freshwater and have made a number of key decisions that previous governments have put in the too-hard basket.

“This Government has introduced national standards for freshwater to safeguard it for future generations,” Ms Adams says. “That new framework will give communities around the country the tools to maintain and improve the quality of their lakes and rivers.

“To continue this progress, the next National-led Government will invest $100 million over 10 years to further enhance the quality of freshwater through a targeted fund to buy and retire areas of farmland next to waterways.

“This fund will give councils another option to help manage freshwater by enabling these sensitive areas to be retired for environmental purposes,” says Ms Adams.

National will also introduce a requirement to exclude dairy cattle from waterways by 1 July 2017, and will work with industry to exclude other cattle from waterways over time on intensively farmed lowland properties, says Ms Adams.

“National is committed to building a stronger economy, particularly in our regions. We are also determined to improve the quality of our environment at the same time, and we are confident we can achieve both.”

Mr Guy says dairy farmers have done a fantastic job addressing some of the key environmental issues they face, and they have fenced over 23,000 kilometres of waterways – over 90 per cent of all dairy farm waterways.

“This is an incredible undertaking to do voluntarily. At the end of the day, farmers are environmentalists; they want to leave their land in a better state for their children, and their grandchildren.

“Our approach involves working collaboratively with farmers, water users and communities. You don’t get good environmental results by aggressively penalising and taxing key industries.” says Mr Guy.

“A mandatory requirement will bolster this great work and highlight the importance of this key environmental protection.

“We will work constructively with dairy farmers when developing the legislation, to ensure practical solutions in those areas with difficult terrain or which are subject to extreme weather events,” says Mr Guy.

Farmers have already done a lot to protect and enhance waterways on their own and with encouragement from milk companies and regional councils.

This policy will ensure even more is done.

 

 

A re-elected National-led Government will improve freshwater quality by investing $100m to buy and retire farmland next to important waterways. ntnl.org.nz/1BaGDWz #Working4NZ
Irrigation New Zealand applauds the policy:

Irrigation New Zealand supports National’s 2014 Water Policy announced today which recognises the value of irrigation and which continues to place the responsibility of cleaning up New Zealand’s waterways with the community.

“Instead of penalising irrigators National is taking pragmatic steps to sorting out New Zealand’s waterways issues,” said Andrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ CEO.

“Ensuring riparian fencing and planting, especially in the lowland plains, will lead to big wins for restoring habitats and supporting aquatic life. This is what New Zealanders’ want to see – fresh water good enough to gather food from and enjoy recreationally.

“With the new freshwater fund and fencing requirements, plus objectives set by the National Policy Statement for freshwater, communities now have the tools to actively and collectively solve freshwater problems,” says Nicky Hyslop, IrrigationNZ chair.

A successful example of a communal resolution to a waterway issue using riparian fencing and planting is the Waikakahi stream on Morven Glenavy Ikawai Irrigation scheme. It has been restored over a number of years and is now thriving with aquatic life. See more detail here http://www.mgiirrigation.co.nz/environmental-management/

“This government understands that a water tax will not solve New Zealand’s freshwater problems and recognises that there is considerable public good to be gained from sustainably managed irrigated agriculture,” says Mr Curtis.

“There are proven significant socio-economic benefits to both the regional and national community from the productive use of water and it is right that this infrastructure is supported nationally. A water tax will only lead to higher food prices and no other country in the world has implemented an irrigation tax for this reason,” says Ms Hyslop.

The opposition’s policy would tax the majority who are doing what they can to clean up after the relatively small number of people who aren’t, or won’t.

National’s policy recognises that economic growth and environmental protection and enhancement aren’t mutually exclusive.

 


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