The new Fresh Water Management legislation became law on the 5th August 2020 and parts of the policy are impractical, with changes already being undertaken to try and improve it. It is clumsy, heavy-handed and will require most farmers to get a consent for winter grazing which could well be a waste of time as it appears that farmers will still need to meet the same criteria that requires them to get a consent in the first place.
Resource consents are expensive, time-consuming and require both farmers and regional councils to have considerable resources to get through the process. Being a legal document, consents also have no flexibility once in place and cannot be easily changed. Consents are the wrong tool for managing winter grazing.
Instead, New Conservative will revamp and simplify the Resource Management Act (RMA) to make it easier for farmers and businesses to operate, and we can also do this with Fresh Water Management. The process should be based on farmers doing the right thing, with the support and monitoring of their regional councils and a revamped RMA as a backup for those that are not prepared to do their bit.
The criteria should be: Will this farm activity adversely impact on the environment, and in particular our waterways and soil for winter grazing, and what good farm management practice can I use to ensure that it doesn’t? If it does impact adversely on the environment it will be an illegal activity under the RMA and the farmer cannot proceed.
It is that simple and does away with the need for a lot of clumsy legislation like slope, buffer strips, margins, hoofprints and when the farmer should replant. This gives the farmer the flexibility and responsibility he needs to work out how to carry out his farm activities and make the appropriate decisions. Much of the current legislation should be turned into helpful and practical guidelines that farmers and councils can use.