Federated Farmers – Land and Water Forum report

Federated Farmers believes the Land and Water Forum report is just that, a report and its recommendations to Government, do not set in stone any future policy or actions.

“The Land and Water Forum report reflects a major journey, in which we have changed our minds on issues and shifted our positions after talking, listening and understanding,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers co-spokesperson on water.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“Federated Farmers has not signed up to the report on behalf of its members, as we need to socialise this among our farmers to get their feedback.  What we want to do now is to take the collaborative process of the forum to a much wider audience of farmers to get their thoughts on the recommendations contained in the report.

“An Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) type structure for water has been raised in the report as ‘resource rentals’.  I know from what many farmers and indeed non-farmers have told me, that this will be a deeply unpopular concept.

“Federated Farmers has genuinely committed itself to the Land and Water Forum process but that does not mean we have committed our members to the recommendations contained in the report.

The hard work of making collaborative processes successful has only just begun.

“I genuinely believe the report is an important first step that will help shape and focus policy development for our most important natural resource,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

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