The meat industry says the Government's freshwater proposals represent a blunt instrument for complex water problems.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie said they generally welcomed the proposal for processing plants to have a Risk Management Plan for wastewater discharges into waterways.

"Under resource consent requirements, processing sites already have similar plans in place."

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"However, the critical part to get right is to ensure there is enough flexibility in the legislation so that each local situation can still be considered on its merits and that we focus on the outcomes that communities want for their freshwater," Ritchie said.

"Achieving higher levels of water treatment will obviously come at a cost, so transition periods need to take into account a longer term plan for improvement and what's practical to achieve in the shorter term."

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He said the meat processing sector had invested significantly in wastewater treatment upgrades and made considerable improvements.

The association was also concerned about the effective ban on changing land use, he said.

Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie. Photo / Supplied
Meat Industry Association chief executive Tim Ritchie. Photo / Supplied

"Hill country farmers are already under pressure from forestry companies speculating on the future price of carbon.

"These farmers are already making significant progress on improving practice and retiring marginal land, but by taking away their flexibility to adapt their land use to meet new requirements with blanket rules, we are compromising the future of our red meat industry in New Zealand.

"We have serious concerns that the Government may be pushing farmers too far and fast. We urge the Government to seek an agreement with the farming sector on environmental outcomes."

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