Federated Farmers opposes Environment Southland’s Plan Change 13 because it takes a sledge hammer to one land use type and is unlikely to result in any water quality improvements.
“It is deeply concerning to see Environment Southland spin the science behind the proposed plan, like a washing machine on a fast spin cycle,” says Russell MacPherson, Federated Farmers Southland provincial vice president.
“We need to say this in the strongest terms because the council’s own monitoring data reveals improvements in water quality between 2000 and 2010. In the past ten years there have been improvements in phosphorus, improvements in visual clarity and improvements in bacteria.
“Improvements are not declines in any language. We accept improvements don’t mean Southland has perfect water quality, but improvements mean farmers are doing a better job despite the growth of dairying in the region.
“We can also say this after having an independent environmental scientist assess Environment Southland’s own data. That preliminary assessment is included below.
“We know there is an area of concern in respect to Nitrogen, particularly in the mid Mataura catchment, but trends across the whole region are varied. From the council’s own data alone, any rule that specifically targets dairy is on shaky ground.
“The council has missed a golden opportunity here to reinforce good farmer stewardship.
“Instead, the council has reverted to a mentality that a rule in a plan will fix a problem, even when that isn’t supported by the council’s own science. Frankly, this is not good enough and will not engender goodwill among farmers.
“What we want the community and council to know is this; most farmers are first and foremost Southlanders. We’re making investment in farm environmental management because it’s the right thing to do. Blanket rules aren’t the answer and never have been either.
“What we do next about this is another urgent matter for the Southland executive to determine,” Mr MacPherson concluded.