Farmers under stress, says Ellis

By Christine McKay

Horizons Regional Council is under no illusions as to the threat Tararua dairy farmers face from the One Plan, Tararua Mayor Roly Ellis says.

"Unless some sort of compromise is reached, a district like the Tararua will suffer like hell," he said.

"Maybe central government needs to stand up and be counted."

Mr Ellis said a group of local dairy farmers had been working on a report on the impact of the One Plan, including financial effects.

"I've spoken to Nathan Guy [Minister for Primary Industries], but he won't enter the fray until a judgment has been received from the High Court," Mr Ellis said. "However, Horizons are under no illusions as to where our dairy farmers are coming from, but they're not prepared to put their head on the block and are waiting for the High Court outcome too."

Last month, Mr Ellis wrote to Horizons and Mr Guy, expressing the grave concerns of dairy farmers in the Tararua.

"I've had the cold shoulder from one of them," he told district councillors last week.

Councillor Warren Davidson said 40 farmers in the Mangatainoka catchment were currently having their farms assessed in regard to the One Plan.

"Farmers are fearing for their financial ability and question how they can negotiate sharemilking agreements if stock numbers are reduced under the plan," he said. "My view is that this uncertainty could go on for years, and it's putting extreme stress on farmers in this zone and is having an impact on people's businesses right now."

Mr Ellis said there had been up to 12 meetings throughout the district, where similar views had been expressed.

"There's a lot of stress, which has been compounded by the drought, but the One Plan is the catalyst," he said.

What is the One Plan?

The plan is Horizons Regional Council's road map to managing natural resources throughout the region. It focuses on the key environmental areas of water quality and quantity, biodiversity and land management.

After eight years of debate, aspects of the plan were taken to the Environment Court, which last year made a landmark ruling to uphold some of the more controversial aspects.

In September last year, Federated Farmers filed an appeal in the High Court against aspects of the Environment Court's decision they believed were unfair and harsh on farmers.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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