Rural round-up

05/03/2013

Personal reflections on Land and Water Forum Hugh Canard:

I was asked to contribute to Waiology’s series on water governance, and after a very brief struggle with my inertial guidance system, I thought my contribution should be from the inside of the governance tent looking out. I have been variously engaged in the early stages of the development through to the implementation phases of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy, and I have been a member of the small group of the Land & Water Forum. I was selected as a representative of water-based recreation, not for any real or perceived level of expertise in science or engineering.

The Land & Water Forum was a bottom-up response to a rapidly deteriorating state of many of New Zealand’s waterways and failed attempts to address the wider legislative issues. Agricultural intensification and a widespread perception of abundance of water failed to deal with the creeping decline of water quality in many catchments. The stakeholders collectively approached a receptive environment minister to fund the forum in a collaborative process to produce a series of reports. . .

Not just luck in Palmerston North:

Cam Brown is the fourth Grand Finalist to be named for the 2013 ANZ Young Farmer Contest. He earned his win over the weekend, Friday 1st March, at the Taranaki/Manawatu Regional Final in Palmerston North held at the Railway Land and Awapuni Racecourse.

It wasn’t all luck for the 30 year old Eketahuna dairy farmer.

“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”, Cam said. Having a solid support team was essential for his success. “I had a wide range of people behind me to offer their expertise and help me up skill”, he said. . .

NZ organic pastoral sector growing in value – new research results:

 There has been a big increase (33%) in the value of organic dairy production in New Zealand in the past three years, and a smaller 11% increase in the value of organic sheep and beef production. This information and more on the growth in organics are contained in the latest research report on the organic sector – Organic Market Report 2012 – to be launched in Wellington on March 6.* . . .

DairyNZ welcomes NAIT levy reductions:

DairyNZ welcomes the decision of National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) to reduce the tag and slaughter levy on cattle from March 8.

“This is good news for farmers. We’ve been working with NAIT to ensure that it’s as low cost and farmer-friendly as possible,” says DairyNZ’s chief executive Tim Mackle.

“Farmers have responded to NAIT even better than we expected. The high uptake is an indication that farmers, as we knew they would, see the benefits of traceability in terms of increasing our preparedness and reducing risk to the industry.

“It’s great, as it means we’re in a position to lower costs to cattle farmers, earlier than anticipated.” . . .

Million milestone for Kim Crawford Wines:

New Zealand brand Kim Crawford Wines has hit a record one million case sales in the past 12 months with 60 per cent of them going to the USA.

The Kim Crawford label, launched in 1996, has been part of the Constellation Brands NZ Limited portfolio since 2006 with global sales having grown significantly since that time.

Constellation New Zealand’s President Joe Stanton says Kim Crawford is a raging success story overseas and represents in excess of 45 per cent of all Constellation exports.

“It is sold in more than 50 countries and 88 per cent of Kim Crawford wine going offshore is Sauvignon Blanc,” Mr Stanton says. . .


Fresh start with water good start

23/09/2010

New Zealand has plenty of water but not all of it’s in the right place at the right time; and not all of it is as clean as it should be.

The need for better management of water is clear, the best way to do it is somewhat less so, but the Land and Water Forum’s report, A Fresh Start for Water, is a good place to start.

It was welcomed by Agriculture Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Nick Smith.

“The Land and Water Forum has achieved a first in New Zealand – consensus on a way forward for managing freshwater,” Dr Smith said.

“The Government initiated this collaborative process because the long term success of future water policies relies on broad agreement at a national level. Improving water management is one of the Government’s top environmental and economic priorities. Finding durable solutions to issues of water quality, allocation and storage are essential to a healthy environment and our long-term economic progress.

“All 58 groups associated with the Land and Water Forum, led by its Chair Alastair Bisley, are to be congratulated for the report. Water is such a complex and polarising issue and to reach agreement is a major achievement.”

Getting 58 groups with a diverse range of views to collaborate let alone reach agreement on a report is amazing.

The report says:

It is in all our interests to maintain and improve the quality of freshwater in New Zealand, including instream values. For that we need limits, standards and targets in line with national needs, values and objectives which are applied taking account of the needs, values and objectives of communities. They must address contaminants and flows.

 Setting limits will require us to address degradation in some areas, but will enable more resource use in others. Limits need to be clear enough to achieve certainty, but able to be adapted in the face of new information and new technology development.

It recommends the adoption of a standards framework which:

Stems from a strategic view of water for New Zealand

• Defines national objectives for the environmental state of our water bodies and the overall timeframes within which to achieve them through National Policy Statements (NPS’s) and National Environmental Standards (NES’s) made under the Resource Management Act (RMA)

• Requires regions to give effect to this national framework at regional to catchment (or sub-catchment) level taking into account the spatial variation in biophysical characteristics of their water bodies and their current state

• Within that framework, requires regions to engage communities, including iwi, about the ways in which their water bodies are valued, and to work collaboratively with relevant land and water users and interested parties to set catchment-specific targets, standards and limits

• Maintains regional councils’ control of the use of land for the purpose of the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of water in water bodies and the maintenance of the quantity of water in water bodies and coastal water.

Federated Farmers’ co-spokesman on water issues Lachlan McKenzie says:

The report signals greater use of collaborative processes in water policy-making and implementation at national, local and catchment levels.

“For farmers, this is actually great news because involving landowners in any process is essential where policy outcomes could directly affect their property and what they can do with their land.  Given this, it’s only fair and right landowners take charge of implementing any changes that may result.

“Real progress also starts with decision making and how communities are informed.  Above all else, how the resourcefulness and innovative capacity of New Zealanders to develop local solutions will be tapped into.

“On-farm, farmers have to look at stock and effluent management systems tailored to location, including fencing waterways where practical.  Reducing our effluent disposal risks will lead to better nutrient utilisation and increased pasture growth.

No-one is denying that some farm practices can, and do, degrade waterways. What is often overlooked is that rural people have a personal interest in the quality and quantity of fresh water because the rivers we neighbour provide water for our farms and our homes.

“Yet some activists conveniently seem to look through the impact of New Zealand’s third most numerous large mammal, Homosapien.  This is not a ‘them and us’ blame culture that has coloured perception, but a realisation that we all rely on the environment.

Pollution from human and industrial waste is an issue which needs to be addressed too.

“Collaboration is a useful process that can result in more enduring and widely accepted outcomes, while saving significant amounts of money and time.

“Collaboration, like consultation however, does not equal agreement and there has not been agreement on all the issues identified in the report.

Feds took part in the forum but hasn’t signed up to the report because it wants to consult farmers on the recommendations and get feedback first.

The government is also waiting for feedback.

The report is a good start but there’s a long way to go before it turns into concrete policy.

Water New Zealand’s response is here.

Forest & Bird’s response is here.


Where to with water?

10/06/2009

 The need for a comprehensive reform of fresh water management is illustrated by what’s happening with the Waitaki River.

Twice this year the storeage lakes in the upper catchment have been so full Meridian Energy has opened the spillways on its hydro dams.

Yet an error with the Waitaki Catchment allocation plan means that not only is there insufficient water for new consent applications – some of which have been lodged for 11 years – there may not be enough for existing irrigators either.

The welcome announcement on the process to improve fresh water management through the Land Water Forum was expanded on in a speech by Environment Minister Nick Smith at the Environmental Defence Society conference.

He started by stating that economic success and good environmental practices aren’t mutually exclusive.

Last century’s politics equated environmentalism with more regulation, big government and anti-capitalism.

 Today it is well recognised that successful environmental policies need a strong market economy and vice versa.  Marrying together successful economic and environmental policies is the new paradigm.

 To be a 21st century environmentalist does not mean being an apologist for inefficient, costly bureaucracy.

Smith said the main elements of the government’s policy should:

  • ensure that water contributes to New Zealand’s economic growth and environmental integrity
  • provide stronger central government direction and leadership
  • set some limits and bottom lines to shape the actions taken on managing water quality and allocation
  • explore supplementary measures to address the impacts of land use intensification on water quality
  • develop an allocation regime that provides for ecological and public values, and then seeks to maximise the return from the remaining water available for extractive use
  • identify the contribution water infrastructure (including storage) could make to better water use, and address barriers to achieving this
  • address some of the scientific, technical, information and capability gaps that hold back improved management, and
  • maintain Treaty-based engagement with Māori on water management options.

Then Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer once observed that we’re a very pluvial country. We have plenty of water, just not always the right amount in the right places and the challenge is to manage it well. This paper provides a good foundation on which to build a process for doing that.

The MFE Cabinet paper on New Start for Fresh Water is here.

Smith’s speech isn’t on-line yet so I’ve copied it after the break. Read the rest of this entry »


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