Federated Famers has slammed regional councils over their handling of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPSFM)
In his opening address to the organisation’s annual conference in Auckland, Federated Farmers dairy chairperson Willy Leferink described the policies as “schizophrenic” and blasted the lack of consultation with farmers.
“On one hand they want lots and lots of export earnings from us. That means more dairy cows and greater production from those cows, but from much less land as our cities sprawl outwards,” Leferink says.
“On the other hand, they’ve put in place policies that give over eager regional council staff a blank cheque guaranteeing their wages as crusaders for the environment.
“So who is running the show, is it the government or council officers? Frankly I don’t know, but it feels as if we’ve given the keys of our Caterpillar D8’s to the bureaucrats. They found the light switch, what’s next?”
The NPSFM requires regional councils to set limits on freshwater usage by 2030.
But Leferink has accused some councils of rushing through policy without proper consultation with farmers.
“Like with the Rates Inquiry, where councils took one recommendation to use debt but ignored everything else, some councils saw the bit about limits in the NPSFM and skipped right past working with the community,” he says.
“The places where tensions are most felt include Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Horizons, Bay of Plenty with other regions in varying stages of setting limits.
“They’ve put in place policies that give over eager regional council staff a blank cheque guaranteeing their wages as crusaders for the environment.”
Leferink singled out the Otago Regional Council for particular scorn, saying its plan to limit the amount of phosphorous, nitrogen, sediment, and bacteria on farms near fresh water sources places unduly strict restraints on farm animals.
“These are measured by an annual limit of 30 kilograms of Nitrogen per hectare and an even stricter annual limit of 10 kilograms, if a farms falls into a sensitive groundwater zone. 10 kilograms of Nitrogen per hectare puts farmers out of business,” he says.
The conference in Auckland continues through until Friday.