Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is calling for the Government to shelve plans to finalise decisions around the National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity and demanding an urgent review of the cumulative financial and social impacts of the Government’s environmental agenda on farmers and rural communities.
B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says farmers are feeling overwhelmed by the tsunami of environmental and other regulation that has been rushed through in the last few years.
“Many are mentally exhausted – there’s just been no understanding from the Government or appreciation of the damage done by the scale and pace of change.
“As a result of the rush, many of the rules in areas such as freshwater and climate change have been poorly thought through and the economic impacts of the changes are far in excess of what is needed to achieve the desired environmental outcomes.”
The NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity is another case in point, McIvor said. Leading biodiversity experts like Professor David Norton agree with B+LNZ that the definition of a Significant Natural Area is much broader than it needs to be and will tie up productive land in red tape and compliance and not achieve positive biodiversity outcomes.
“We have been calling for changes to the draft policy for the last couple of years and we understand the Government intends to make final decisions soon about the NPS for Indigenous Biodiversity.
“The Government needs to stop and take stock of what it is trying to achieve. Around the world, many Governments have been adjusting their reform agendas in light of the need to ensure their economies successfully recover from COVID-19.
“Instead, this Government appears hell-bent on delivering on its change agenda no matter what the cost to our people, rural communities and wider New Zealand.”
McIvor said the cumulative economic and social impacts of all these changes are significant. For example, the Government ignored feedback on winter grazing and ploughed ahead with enforcing the rules despite not having all management instruments in place.
Thousands of farmers across the country are now required to apply for a costly consent as the Government has failed to provide the alternative option of a certified freshwater farm plan.
“There’s no need for this, with regional councils reporting winter grazing practices have significantly improved in the last few years as a result of hard work and investment put in by farmers.”
The Government also continues to ignore repeated calls for urgent limits on forestry offsets in the Emissions Trading Scheme, from B+LNZ and farming groups, the Climate Change Commission, and NGOs including the Environment Defence Society, Forest & Bird and Fish & Game.
In the meantime, thousands of hectares of productive sheep and beef farmland are being bought up by industrial polluters to offset their emissions.
“And after working with all agricultural industry groups for two years on a pricing framework for agricultural emissions, the Government ignored the advice and made critical changes to what was recommended, despite its own modelling showing its proposals could put 20 percent of sheep and beef farmers out of business as a result of this policy and the impact of afforestation.
“The Government needs to stop, listen to feedback and fundamentally change key policies before it’s too late.”