For farmers across New Zealand, including the Rangitikei Whanganui area, there seems to be an inordinate amount of regulation that has already come, or is coming, down the pipeline.
Much of this will affect the way that we operate on and off farm, and you may feel a bit overwhelmed with the amount of regulation and its effects on you and your business.
This "regulation" comes from many different sources. Some is legally binding and some is just industry "best practice".
For example, the Government will most likely eventually mandate that the agriculture industry must pay for some of its greenhouse gas emissions – this will be a legal requirement.
If you live in the Waikato catchment, you are required under the Waikato regional plan to have a farm environment plan - another legal requirement but from a regional council level. Beef and Lamb NZ currently recommend that all farmers have a farm environment plan by 2021 - this is not a legal requirement but is best practice.
• Let's talk law: Legal jargon – terms of art
• Premium - Lets talk law: All's fair in wills and estates
• Premium - Let's talk law: Big changes coming for Relationship Property
• Premium - Let's Talk Law: An overview of the role of executors for a will
Compliance can also be a condition of supply but not a legal requirement – for example if you supply lambs to Affco from February 2020 you will be required to be audited under the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme. This mandates a record of agrichemical use (location, application rate, withholding period) be kept.
The Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Bill was passed by Parliament on November 7, 2019. Its primary goal was for New Zealand to be a net zero carbon emitter by 2050.
Most importantly for agriculture, the Government agreed not to put agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme ("ETS") emissions trading scheme immediately. It placed the burden on agriculture to make its own changes, with two key backstops:
Conservation Comment: Momentum a must when it comes to staying beautiful
What? An art gallery exhibiting motorcycles - what's going on?
(a) If insufficient progress is made by 2022, the Government will bring agriculture into the ETS at processor level before 2025 (i.e. your lamb processor would deduct an averaged emissions level on your kill sheet); and
(b) Livestock farming will be brought into the ETS at farmgate level from 2025 as a default.
Therefore, the agriculture sector has until 2022 to make sufficient progress to satisfy the Government and then until 2025 to adequately measure each farm's emissions.
The Government agreed not to introduce agriculture into the ETS on the basis of a multi-sector (Beef and Lamb, Fonterra etc) commitment to begin the process now to offset emissions. This commitment is known as He Waka eke noa and you will be hearing a lot more about this plan in the next few years. Meantime, in summary:
(a) The primary sector will work with MPI to develop a comprehensive system to calculate net farm emissions. The sector's goal was that by 2022 all farmers will know their emissions. By 2024 they will begin piloting the reporting and by 2025 the farm level accounting and reporting of agricultural missions will be in place at farm level;
(b) All farmers by 2025 will have a farm environment plan; and
(c) The industry will work with partners to fast-track mitigation tools such as methane genetic selection. The aim is to release this to sheep breeders and industry in 2020.
Many of you will have seen and heard of the freshwater proposals that closed for submission on October 31. At the moment they are very much just proposals, but many in the industry believe them to have been prepared on a "one size fits all approach" that does not adequately consider each individual catchment.
Additionally, they could potentially have significant impacts on land values through fencing requirements and land use restrictions including the requirement to obtain a resource consent for winter cropping on hill country.
It will be interesting to see what amendments are made to the proposals after the Minister for the Environment has considered all the submissions.
Next on the Government's environmental regulation programme, is national policy statement for biodiversity. This may include matters such as:
1 . Restrictions on private land containing any wetlands;
2 . Implement a consistent national approach to rates relief for covenanted and other protected private land - some councils provide rates remission but others do not;
3 . Scale up programmes for privately protected areas (for example QEII covenant);
4 . The requirement that regional councils must identify Significant Natural Areas - currently haphazard across regional councils; and
5 . Increased funding be made available to private landowners for biodiversity enhancement works.
Just a reminder that with effect October 1, 2019 all dehorning and debudding can only be carried out with the use of local anaesthetic. This was part of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2018 but there was a delayed commencement date to give farmers and veterinarians enough time to get ready for the change.
Farmers in New Zealand face an increasing regulatory burden. Whilst many of these regulations come with obligations, they often also come with incentives and/or Government funding which can bring opportunities.
However, at the same time, keeping on top of your compliance regulations in the future will unfortunately become an increasingly complex and burdensome task.