“The Government has shown once again it does not know the extent of the regulatory burden it is placing on farmers with the upcoming deadline for Freshwater Farm Plans, and councils and farmers are rejecting it,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson Mark Cameron.

“Documents obtained by ACT showed that up to 3,500 farms are recorded as using intensive winter grazing practices in Southland, meaning thousands of resource consents would need to be processed unless David Parker decided to extend the November 1 winter grazing deadline.

“When I put these figures to the Associate Minister of Agriculture Meka Whaitiri in Parliament, she tried to downplay the size of the problem, stating “only 6.5 percent of Southland's winter forage crops are at a slope of greater than 10 degrees, which is the slope maximum in the intensive winter grazing module.”

“The Minister was wrong though. Figures obtained by ACT from Environment Southland tell us that approximately 2,000 properties contain a slope of 10 degrees and have used intensive winter grazing practices.

“Councils can’t put up with the regulatory burden that is coming down the pipeline so they are implementing their own rules. Environment Southland are now allowing for a deemed permitted activity authorisation for intensive winter grazing on land between 10 and 15 degrees where all other permitted activity criteria are met.

“This is proof that David Parker’s plans have not worked. He has tried to force a one-size fits all plan on farmers across the country that was never going to work. Local councils and farmers are fighting back against this centralisation by doing what works for them.

“This follows Southland farmers stating that they would choose to ignore the regulations because the Government has not been able to get them ready in time.

“This is what happens when the Government fails to listen. ACT has been telling Parker for months that he needed to issue an extension since FFP regulations are yet to be finalised.

“Instead Minister Parker gave farmers the choice of planting their crops without any guarantee of consents and risk not being able to graze them next year, or not plant their crops and create a massive animal welfare and food production issue. Farmers are choosing the third option instead.

“ACT is the loudest voice in Parliament when it comes to standing up for the rights of rural New Zealand. As a dairy farmer myself, I know that farmers are best environmentalists around. We kept the economy going through Covid. It’s time the Government gave us a break.”

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