Farmers Manifesto calls for pragmatic approach to tackling environmental issues

Federated Farmers has launched its ‘Farmers’ Manifesto’ challenging political parties in the upcoming general election to take a “sensible, practical and affordable” approach to tackling issues of high importance to its members.

The Federation wants a ‘targeted catchment approach’ when it comes to addressing the nation’s water quality where sustainable economic growth, can be achieved alongside environmental goals.

“We support a framework for catchment partnerships that co-ordinates community, council and scientific efforts. This could involve a range of tax payer and region wide rates based funding to assist in the most cost effective way, to manage our regional waterways, says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers’ National President.

“This way we can target those hotspots that need immediate attention through applying science based data, investing resources and funds more wisely, to understand and ultimately alleviate the worst affected areas.”

Farmers throughout the country had made, and will continue to make, significant environmental improvements in how they managed the land, with dairy farmers spending over $1 billion over the past five years while their sheep and beef farmers have been the main contributors to the establishment of QEII covenants, protecting private land for conservation at a real and opportunity cost of $1.2 to 1.4 billion dollars.  

“Farmers are on a journey to improve our waterways and we call on all New Zealanders to not only back our campaign but to join us in doing our share.

” As every catchment is unique in regard to its current state and how it should be managed in the future, catchment communities should have more say in how their waterways are managed. 

“An open and frank consultation which weighs up economic and environmental outcomes is vital and can pave the way, for changes that are sensible, practical and affordable.”

In the wake of several high profile biosecurity incursions in the past year, Federated Farmers recommends greater focus and investment in biosecurity measures, which is fundamental to protecting the country’s prized primary sector.

Dr Rolleston said, “There is no doubt we need to develop and enhance our world class biosecurity system. The Government Industry Agreement (GIA) is a progressive step and allows for more efficiency with responding to future incursions. 

“That said the risks are increasing due to more incoming traffic to our shores and this means we have to pursue strong science based solutions backed by strict, enforceable laws which lead to significant penalties.”

The Farmers’ Manifesto is also calling for reform of the Resource Management Act (RMA) where there is redress of economic priorities which underpin rural economies and their social prosperity.  

“Federated Farmers view RMA reform as a matter of national importance. A review of the current principles relating to property rights, rural production and how it impacts on the economic returns at the farm gate, should be factored into future reviews so that farmers and rural economies aren’t overlooked or disadvantaged,” Dr Rolleston said.

Federated Farmers also calls for: 
  • Continued efforts to realise the benefits of free trade,
  • The building of a science investment programme that delivers on economic and environmental goals,
  • A continuation of a pragmatic approach to climate change,
  • Increased efforts to assist with skill shortages on farms
  • Improved educational opportunities for remote rural communities including an increase to boarding bursaries
  • Increased effort to improve telecommunications connectivity in rural areas
  • Fairer investment in tourism-related infrastructure
  • Better rural policing
  • Stronger deterrents for livestock theft.