Federated Farmers Whanganui President Mike Cranstone wrote this report for his newsletter to local members, but it’s worth sharing wider…
It’s like sitting in the surgeon’s waiting room for Whanganui Farmers – conditions are good but there is uncertainty as to what lies ahead. We haven’t seen the surgeons (Ministers Parker and Shaw) for a while, but we know that they will not have been idle. Their choice of instruments and how sharp they will be is creating some apprehension.
In the meantime, it has taken a while but good quality feed is being served and we are currently being paid very well. There is also a phenomenon called COVID that is about to pass through town and nobody knows what disruption it is going to cause.
The He Waka Eke Noa working group is due to release its report on pricing mechanisms for agricultural emissions on November 24th. This is new territory for farming, and the government has shown no indication that they will acknowledge the science when they set emission targets or pricing methane emissions.
Other key forthcoming regulations for Wanganui members will be the Biodiversity NPS and how the regional councils implement Freshwater regulations. Farm plans and consents for intensive winter grazing will be seen first, but of real concern down the track is how limits on sediment are achieved.
We have had indications that there will be regulations imposed around sediment loss from erosion. The sustainable land use initiative (SLUI) has been a very successful Horizons Regional Council led programme that has been running since the 2004 storm event. Poplar pole planting and some retirement of erosion-prone land has been jointly funded and the successful reduction in sediment loss has been modelled. The government has contributed to this programme but there is uncertainty whether they will acknowledge its success and continue their funding in the future. Once again I encourage farmers to utilize this funding while it is still available, talk to your local Horizons Land Management person.
I encourage farmers to document previous work and keep momentum in their maintenance scrub control, as I think there is risk that this activity will be targeted in forthcoming regulations. MPI considers that Class 6-8 hill country is better suited to trees than livestock farming and this constitutes 79% of Whanganui farm land. Using the biodiversity NPS to prevent maintenance scrub clearance may be a convenient means of achieving increased vegetation cover to assist NZ meeting climate change targets. This should be a real concern for Whanganui farmers.
This Government’s process of mandating of the Three Waters reform has been a shock to urban New Zealand but it comes as no real surprise to farmers. We have seen this government bulldozing through its intentions, with consultation just a meaningless gesture with the Freshwater Reforms, Zero Carbon and everything else it seems set on reforming. The big question is what the Government’s plans for Local Government are; I expect we as ratepayers will be become a funder for social services, on top of being required to pay a larger contribution to the new entity for the three waters services that few of us ever get to utilize.
The Groundswell protest is planned for Sunday November 21st. Federated Farmers supports the Groundswell movement and what it is trying to achieve. There is concern around the risk that the protest will be highjacked by more radical protestors with messages not connected to Groundswell. We encourage protestors to put their messages on billboards on their vehicles, but don’t be the one that gets the media attention for all the wrong reasons. The Three Waters asset grab has fuelled the frustration of many urban people, and we must share a clear and reasoned message with them to encourage their ongoing support.
On a brighter note, the weather has warmed up and grass growth has kicked into gear. Pasture quality is good and with great product prices hopefully we are set for a profitable late spring.