As the temperature gauge starts to drop, Federated Farmers and allied groups say they have an action plan in place to head off any issues with winter grazing.
"Winter crops are gradually being opened up to stock around the lower South Island and although the weather has been kind so far, we all know that winter will arrive before long," Federated Farmers President Katie Milne said.
Feds said rural people knew that a photograph taken of stock in a muddy paddock seldom told the full story in terms of what the farmer had in place to protect waterways from run-off and ensure good animal welfare.
"Nevertheless, these selective photographs can generate negative publicity and we want to make sure any concerns are proactively addressed, and that any farmer needing advice or support gets it early," Milne said.
Federated Farmers Southland Vice-President Bernadette Hunt said intervention groups were ready to go in her province.
"If someone raises a concern with winter grazing, a group comprising representatives from Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ and Beef and Lamb NZ will discuss the situation and ask the most appropriate person to contact the farmer, talk through the issues and, where necessary, identify strategies to mitigate problems".
"If the farmer is not willing to accept industry support or take action, environmental concerns will be passed on to the local regional council and animal welfare concerns to the Ministry for Primary Industries," Hunt said.
The vast majority of farmers really wanted to do the right thing, and often education or fresh ideas were all that was required, she said.
"A supportive approach will be essential this year, with many farmers in the region already under significant pressure from poor growth conditions, flood impact and imposed overstocking due to the processing constraints of Covid-19."
The Southland/Otago intervention group was already meeting regularly, and groups will be stood up in other regions as required.
- Feds encouraged anyone concerned about winter crop grazing practices anywhere in the country, to fill in the online form on the Federated Farmers website (fedfarm.org.nz – search 'Winter grazing'), or call 0800 327 646.