Our warnings fell on deaf ears and the upshot is 323 farms are now being told they need to apply for resource consent, even though they comply with their on-farm limits.

Federated Farmers is concerned farmers are left with the onerous stick of regulations, while the 'water-storage carrot' has disappeared.

Several years ago, Hawke's Bay Regional Council's Plan Change 6 and future water management for the Tukituki catchment aimed for a carrot-and-stick approach.

Farmers were accepting of some restrictions on their activities because these were mollified by the benefits that would come from the Ruataniwha water storage project.

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It won't come as a surprise that many of them are fed up with the impact of the rules, which is to be discussed at a public meeting (Wednesday, October 30, 7pm, Tikokino Hall) hosted by Federated Farmers.

The Parliamentary Commission for the Environment, among others, has slammed the use of Overseer software as a regulatory tool. But Overseer is what is being used in nutrient limit setting for the catchment.

Results of monitoring vary widely, and the council hasn't even made it clear which version of the software it will be using. Three subcatchments (Mangaonuku, Kahahakuri and Papanui) are currently exceeding the in-stream DIN (dissolved inorganic nitrogen) limit.

Farmers represented on the initial steering committee warned council that it was an unfair requiring farmers who are compliant with their individual on-farm limits to get consent, and that the DIN in-stream limit is unachievable.

Our warnings fell on deaf ears and the upshot is 323 farms are now being told they need to apply for resource consent, even though they comply with their on-farm limits.

Not only do these costs thousands of dollars, but the council has failed to clearly describe the criteria around whether applications will be non-notified or fully public.

Making sensitive business and personal financial information like this available to the public will erode farmer's trust in the council.

We think it is unbalanced of the regional council to effectively punish farmers who are currently well below their individual Land Use Capability allocation. In the Kahahakuri sub-catchment, 72per cent of farms are compliant with their on-farm limits, yet will still require nitrogen reduction.

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There is no certainty over time frames.

If granted, consents to farm have a maximum expiry date of 35 years, but it is likely the regional council will give shorter terms.

With 323 farms needing consents, the council will net $371,450 in application fees alone.

Farmers will also fork out for consultants, Overseer costs, Farm Environmental Management Plan costs, and any additional processing fees the council imposes. If consent is granted, farmers will then be charged for yearly monitoring.

Federated Farmers invites farmers to our meeting on October 30 so we can support one another and discuss solutions.

• Matt Wade is the dairy chairman of Federated Farmers Hawke's Bay