“Environment Minister David Parker can’t comprehend how big a problem he is creating by not extending the deadline for freshwater farm plans, if he doesn’t issue an extension there’s a risk many farmers will be unable to get crops in the ground that are needed to feed animals,” says ACT’s Primary Industries spokesperson and Ruawai dairy farmer Mark Cameron.

“When I asked Parker in Parliament today whether he would issue an extension for farmers who won’t be able to get a plan in place by the deadline he said “I am considering it”, but he wouldn’t commit because he has no idea how many farmers are affected.  

“This is despite page 7 of the policy’s Regulatory Impact Statement stating that in lieu of freshwater farm plans being in place by now: “This is estimated to result in as many as 10,000 resource consent applications required to be lodged and processed (including 1,500 in Southland, 2000 in Otago, and 3000 in Canterbury) to authorise IWG activities. This is a significant consenting pressure and cost, borne by both farmers (the applicants) and regional councils.”

“With the November 1st cut-off date fast approaching it’s estimated more than 40 per cent of farmers have been unable to get a plan formulated. In the absence of farm environment plans it’ll be up to overworked councils to grant consents for next year’s winter grazing crops.

“Councils are overworked and under resourced, the prospect of them working through an estimated 10,000 consents in a timely manner is a pipe dream. Especially for farmers in Otago and Southland who need to prepare for next year’s winter grazing crops.

“This will have serious consequences. Farmers won’t be able to get their crops in the ground and will have nothing to feed their livestock next winter.

“Is the Minister seriously telling us he would rather a massive animal welfare and food production issue be created just because he doesn’t want to implement an extension?

“Farm environment plans are an integral part of farming operations, but the resources available to farmers to get them done and the tight timeframes simply don’t make sense. I know from my own experiences as a farmer that there is a shortage of consultants and long waiting times are a huge issue.

“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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Mark Cameron