Changes are made to winter grazing regulations to make implementation more practical

Cabinet this week agreed to make some changes to regulations within the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater to make them clearer.

It had become apparent that some of the regulations within the Freshwater standards – including ones around winter grazing – needed to be adjusted, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor acknowledged.

“So we’ve done that,” he said.

The regulations on pugging depths around fixed water troughs and gateways weren’t practical and have been changed to make them more realistic. Discrete areas around fixed water troughs and gateways have now been exempted.

And the definition for pugging has been changed to provide more clarity.

Mr O’Connor said:

“It comes down to the sensible application of necessary regulations. There will be other regulations that will need to be adjusted as we move forward. For example, Minister Parker and I are aware of issues with the maps. 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 is very clear – to clean up our waterways. We’ve made real progress in the area of winter grazing. 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.”

About the amendments

These amendments were gazetted yesterday:

  • Change the definition of pugging to penetration of soil of more than 5cm.
  • Clarification that that the 20cm pugging depth limit does not apply around fixed structures.

Beef + Lamb NZ has been talking with farmers since the rules were released on 5 August and had raised significant concerns about the practicality of some rules.

It has drawn attention to its webinar (watch the recording here) and to a joint factsheet with Federated Farmers.

Information is available, too, on B+LNZ’s  Essential Freshwater Consultation webpage.

Sources:  Minister of Agriculture, Beef + Lamb NZ  

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