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DairyNZ is pleased by progress to improve winter grazing regulations but wants further changes so new rules are workable on-farm.
Farmers were worried about the fairness and practicality of some of the winter grazing regulations when they were first announced, DairyNZ's strategy and investment leader – responsible dairy, Dr David Burger said.
"For example, the pugging rule and the resowing dates were causing quite a bit of concern amongst farmers – particularly those in Southland," he told The Country Sport Breakfast's Brian Kelly.
DairyNZ has been working with Federated Farmers, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and southern farmers since last year to recommend changes to winter grazing regulations.
Sector partners had also worked together during the latest submission process, Burger said.
"The Government has now proposed a number of changes to the rules and they've been consulting with the community on those over the last eight weeks."
Overall DairyNZ was "generally quite pleased" with the changes, especially since they still allowed farmers to deliver on their environmental outcomes, Burger said.
However, DairyNZ has outlined further suggested changes in its submission on the new winter grazing rules.
This included being able to carry out winter grazing on a larger area than proposed - without needing a consent.
DairyNZ wants a consent requirement to only apply if over 100 hectares is used for winter grazing - or 10 per cent of the farm area - (whichever is greater).
The Government proposal would require a consent if more than 50 hectares, or over 10 per cent of the farm, is used for winter grazing.
DairyNZ would also like to see pugging requirements dropped, Burger said.
"We're suggesting - let's remove those rules altogether - because they can now be picked up through a new critical source area rule, which allows farmers to manage critical source areas better as part of a farm plan - which would naturally include pugging as well."
Burger was pleased with the Government's decision to delay the rules until November next year, as it gave farmers enough time to develop a Farm Environmental Plan to manage wintering practices.
"So that's really good news, but at the same time we believe the changes could go a little bit further on some fronts."
Meanwhile, Burger was happy to announce that more farmers than ever had winter grazing plans in place.
"Based on our surveys, we estimate that more than 80 per cent of dairy farmers had a winter grazing plan at the start of this season, back in June, and around 89 per cent of dairy farmers also had a contingency plan."
It was "great news" because farm plans were a very useful tool to help farmers manage environmental risk and animal welfare issues, Burger said.
"[It's] very positive, because we know that these things will make a difference moving forward, for the environment and for the animals."
Farmers looking for more information on winter grazing and setting up for next season can visit:
DairyNZ's winter grazing submission can be viewed here.