Conor English: 2013 a big year for reform

By Conor English

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The Government has an extremely busy reform agenda for 2013. The outcomes of what has, in many cases, been several years' work is coming to fruition.

Federated Farmers continues to put significant resource into Local Government, water and Resource Management Act (RMA) reforms, which matter not just to the rural community, but all New Zealanders. Together they add up to some of the most significant changes we have seen in many years. It is critical we get them right.

After lengthy processes, the Government recently put out discussion documents on water and the RMA.

The Land and Water Forum met for more than three years before completing its recommendations. The Government's paper, Fresh Water Reform - 2013 and Beyond, draws heavily from that effort. In 2008 Federated Farmers wrote a paper, Let's Make It Work, outlining RMA changes we believed were necessary.

The Government's current paperincludes many of our recommendations.

Local government is also lined up for significant change with the passing of the Local Government Amendment Bill 2012.

These are all complex issues with some significant risks for rural communities. Overall, however, we are supportive of the general direction of the reforms and, as is often the case, the devil is in the detail.

These reforms reflect much work by the Federation over the years and we look forward to continuing to speak on behalf of farmers and the rural community to get the right balance and best outcomes.

Of course, all of this is on top of our normal input through submissions and other lobbying activity at international, national, regional and sector levels.

At any one time Federated Farmers can be dealing with 300 to 500 issues. We are the biggest policy shop outside of a government department and a great resource for farmers. Membership is less than $1.50 a day - and it is a tax deductible expense.

A further reform on the horizon is that of the meat industry. As discussed on page 18, there must be change if we are going to try for profitable, sustainable farming for our sheep and beef farmers.

- Hamilton News

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