Cabinet has agreed to make some adjustments to regulations within the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater to make them clearer, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor announced today.
"It became apparent that some of the regulations within the Freshwater standards – including ones around winter grazing – need to be adjusted, so we've done that," O'Connor said.
Regulations on pugging depths around fixed water troughs and gateways "weren't practical" so adjustments were made to make them more realistic, O'Connor said.
"Discrete areas around fixed water troughs and gateways have now been exempted. We've also amended the definition for pugging to provide more clarity."
"It comes down to the sensible application of necessary regulations."
• Change the definition of pugging to penetration of soil of more than 5cm.
• Clarification that the 20cm pugging depth limit does not apply around fixed structures.
O'Connor said there would be other regulations that would need to be adjusted "as we move forward".
One example was issues with maps, which O'Connor said both he and Environment Minister Parker were aware of.
"We've both met about it and officials from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries are working on making the mapping data more accurate."
The intent was very clear – "to clean up our waterways" and farmers had made real progress in the area of winter grazing, O'Connor said.
"There are some challenges ahead of us but I'm confident we'll get this right. Where the regulations are impractical or unclear we will continue to make adjustments."
"It is a change in practice for some farmers but we'll make sure that it achieves the outcomes that the vast majority of farmers say they want – which is better water quality, better animal welfare standards and making sure that we can sell good quality product to the world."