In return for the farming sector’s commitment, the Government has deferred the introduction of intensive winter grazing practice regulations until May 2022.
The Government has deferred imposing almost all its proposed winter grazing regulations for a year.
Intensive winter grazing (IWG) is a farming practice where stock are confined to outdoor feeding areas planted with fodder crops.
Environment Minister David Parker said “if done poorly, IWG has serious negative effects on animal welfare and the environment, particularly freshwater health and estuaries. Farming leaders accept that these practices need to improve and they want to be part of the solution.”
In return for the farming sector’s commitment, the Government has deferred the introduction of IWG practice regulations for a year until May 2022, while these improvements are made. However, rules preventing the expansion of IWG will still apply.
* Stoush brews between Environment Minister and farmers over freshwater rules
* Southland farmers to consider further protest against freshwater rules
* Freshwater regulations must be tweaked, but not tweakened.
Winter grazing practises hit the headlines in 2019 after environmentalist Angus Robson posted photos to social media of cows standing in mud, and runoff from paddocks into rivers.
That prompted Environment Southland to hold a hui to address issues around the grazing practise, and for Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to launch a winter grazing taskforce.
Under the new rules, all sowing of winter crops in Southland and Otago needs to be completed by November 1 and slope rule, which bans winter grazing on slopes greater than 10 degrees.
However, some farmers believed some of the rules, especially those around winter grazing and resowing paddocks to a deadline, were impractical.
Several protest and meetings have been held in Southland with those who were against new freshwater rules.
A draft IWG farm plan module has been developed by the Southland Advisory Group, which included Environment Southland, DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb, Fish and Game and Federated Farmers, with input from iwi and Local Government NZ.
“The draft module will give councils and the farming sector a head start in meeting their commitments to us,” Parker said.
The Government will work with the farming sector to improve on-the-ground IWG practices for the benefit of freshwater quality and animal welfare.
“The one year deferment will enable an IWG farm plan ‘module’ to be rapidly developed, tested and deployed ready for formal incorporation into wider certified freshwater farm plans in 2022,” Parker said
Parker and O’Connor saw the freshwater farm plan regime as the key to achieving improvements in IWG practices.
The ministers thanked Beef + Lamb, Dairy NZ and the Southland Advisory Group for working co-operatively with the Government on effective and practical solutions to manage the impacts of winter grazing on the environment and animal welfare.
O’Connor said the direction of travel is known to all involved.
“This decision provides certainty of direction and timeframe. We can get on and put farm plans into place as quickly as possible across all farming operations.
Parker said “immediate improvements in IWG practices this season are required, and I have set out my expectations to both councils and industry bodies.
“Increased monitoring and reporting by councils will also ensure measurable improvements in IWG by May 2022. This will include quarterly reports to me.”
Southland Federated Farmers president Geoffrey Young said: “We are pleased that minister Parker has taken on board the advisory groups recommendations, although we need certainty around the detail.
“Even though the recommendations have been pushed out for 12 months, I urge all farmers to adhere to best management practice this winter,” Young said.