Federated Farmers is not against protecting river wildlife.

In fact, you will find most farmers enjoy river activities like fishing and boating, but we do not want a Water Conservation Order (WCO) at the expense of our livelihoods.

Federated Farmers presented at the recent hearing opposing the WCO for the Ngaruroro and Clive rivers.

The applicant says that land use change is a risk to the river, which is why they want a WCO.


They say the primary industry has to be more specific with our plans for the future so they can assess it, but we say that our inability to give them a detailed proposal demonstrates why a WCO is an unfit tool.

It is easier for the district councils to estimate what their future long-term water needs are based on projected population growth, but it's a roll of the dice for farmers.

In the last few weeks we've had strong suggestions Brexit will be delayed, and the Tax Working Group recommendations on environmental taxes have come out, both major political movements which could change the way our region farms in the future.

These are global and national-scale examples, individual scale factors like rainfall and even the farmer's health are also factors.

Even in my lifetime there has been a lot of change — big moves from sheep breeding to vineyards.

The big problem is that a WCO will last forever, and is rigid when we need flexibility.
Farmers are being asked to carry all the risk here.

It is important to remember the Ngaruroro River is not currently unprotected.
A WCO is not some sort of last hope for the river.

There are already regional council rules, and these are being updated as we speak to meet National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management requirements.


Rhea Dasent is a senior policy adviser for Federated Farmers