In response to an urgent letter from Ruapehu, Whanganui, Manawatū/Rangitīkei and Tararua Federated Farmers also signed by national president Wayne Langford, Horizons Regional Council has extended the timeline for submissions regarding water quality targets to the end of February 2024.
Horizons’ regulatory arm is already under pressure trying to enact the 2020 legislative freshwater plans. Will the legislation be reworked by new ministers in this time period?
From a farmer’s perspective, I certainly hope so.
Aside from this, it’s been a busy time for your local Federated Farmers executive; recently I’ve accompanied a deputation to Horizons to highlight what Tararua farmers are already doing in the sustainability space.
Engaging with goodwill in the SLUI, various freshwater funding and plantain projects, Massey sediment dam studies and Tararua District Council horticulture studies are but a few examples.
Simply put, it’s very hard for councillors to know what they don’t know - Alan Benbow, our Tararua councillor, suggested we host the councillors over here so they can learn more about what’s happening in Tararua.
During my speech to Horizons, I highlighted our need to learn from the past – here’s some of what I said:
“Thirty years ago, we thought that willows in waterways were a good solution, that pine plantations on highly erodible land would work, and that taking human and animal effluent out of creeks would fix water quality.
“PC2 court challenges highlight why we need to take any opportunities to get agreement between parties through collaborative efforts. No groups involved can afford another 20 years of court battles.”
Following that, I posed two closing questions to councillors:
“If Tararua farmers are focused on learning more through water testing, catchment groups, innovative programmes such as plantain research/SLUI and they know their farm’s weaknesses and strengths, should they be making the plans regarding mitigations through vehicles like NZFAP Plus or integrated farm plans, rather than consenting and auditing duplications.
“SLUI wasn’t regulated, but incentivised massive positive changes in land management.”
Will we reach our shared goal quicker if money is invested in mitigations rather than permissions and consents? There does need to be a level of trust and partnership for honest conversations about where we are at now rather than modelled data points farmers aren’t connected with.
With Christmas on the way, my thoughts now are that we should take a breath, enjoy some fun in the sun over the break and regroup in early February to find pathways forward.
Sally Dryland is co-president of Tararua Federated Farmers.