For Central Hawke's Bay farmer Tim Gilbertson the issue of feedlots is, simply, not an issue.

They are there, he conceded, but to his knowledge they are not there all year round as they are in some other regions.

"They are only seasonal and it has been that way for 40 or 50 years."

One seasonal feedlot in his rural neighbourhood that he was aware of had been set up by the farmer to get cattle stock off boggy ground and onto an area of old riverbed near the top of the Papanui Stream just out of Waipawa.


Nitrogen levels, Mr Gilbertson said, were the integral ingredient to the water readings but suggestions high levels were caused by seasonal feedlots near riverbanks came up short in the wake of readings taken in the Papanui waterways where the cattle had been grazing.

He said the readings upstream from the feedlot were actually higher than the readings downstream past it.

Nitrogen, he added, had been in the waterways for up to 40 years and it was being addressed.

Any soiling spin-offs from the seasonal feedlots was not a major issue, Mr Gilbertson.
"And we have not had a massive amount of dairy here."

There were problems to be looked into and resolved and he said farmers, like anyone in the community, were conscious of getting things right.

"But if there are problems they are not major and they are being solved - it takes time."
He said 90 per cent of rivers were fenced up.

"We are making progress."

The gastro outbreak in Havelock North had sparked what he described as moments of "mass hysteria" about water issues, and cattle farmers unfairly came under the spotlight.
His belief is that there is a high probability high rainfall prior to the outbreak flushed pathogens into local bores.

"There has been a lot of mass hysteria about this whole water issue," he said, adding the farming community, which contributed so much to the regional and national economy, had copped a lot of unnecessary flak.

Some of it had been politically driven, he said.

A lot of politics involved in a string of claims, opinions and finger pointing and he said one strong reason for that was that it is local body election time - something he knows plenty about because he has been there, and is seeking to be there again.

He has previously served as mayor of Central Hawke's Bay and has been a Hawke's Bay Regional councillor, the latter of which he is aiming for again.

He also has plenty of feel for the rural community as he is also an ex-chairman of Waipukurau Federated Farmers.

One reason for him standing for the regional council's Hastings ward was because he believed the council had lost its way and there had effectively been three years of infighting, and that its main task of protecting soil and water had been side-tracked by other issues.

On the subject of "issues", he reiterated that feedlots were not one as they were effectively seasonal.

The only way to create a 100 per cent clear landscape was to put all cattle in barns, which would never be practical as the New Zealand industry was dependent on grass-fed stock.

On the keep things clean front he said the rural community were committed to getting things sorted - "we are making progress".

With a smile he said any accusations put his way about not being environmentally friendly could be answered two ways.

"I've got solar panels and an electric car."