Agricultural organisations in New Zealand have voiced their approach to managing the control of livestock away from waterbodies in a submission to New Zealand’s government.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ), Federated Farmers, and Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), in a joint submission, have called on the government to work with the sector on a fair and workable solution to keep beef cattle and deer away from waterbodies.

These farm organisations believe that a freshwater farm plan (FWFP) may be the best option to manage the exclusion of livestock from water sources.

FWFPs are a tool for farmers and growers to show how they are protecting the freshwater resources on their properties.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIvor said: “Our initial analysis of the options indicates that FWFPs, either as an exception or alternative, could be the best option.”

The submission was delivered to New Zealand’s Ministry for the Environment and Ministry for Primary Industries regarding the Stock Exclusion Regulations 2020.

Joint submission

These farm organisations conducted much of their research based on the responses of over 340 farmers that had partaken in a survey.

The findings included:

  • There is an impracticality of fencing; both in terms of costs, and risk of damage from floods;
  • There is consensus in the farming community that there needs to be some control over stock in waterbodies, farmers just want simple and fair options to manage this;
  • There is a lack of confidence in regulatory direction overall;
  • That the low slope map is inaccurate.

The joint submission states: “The use of low slope land as a proxy for identifying intensively farmed land is inherently flawed as it assumes that land with a slope between 0-5° will have a high stocking rate and that this will result in adverse environmental effects.”

The consultation material considers removing or creating exceptions to the low slope map.

“This is a positive step forward and reflects the low impact nature of most non-intensively grazed beef cattle and deer farming systems, regardless of slope,” the submission said.

The joint submission supports the intent of the proposed changes to the stock exclusion regulations to prioritise exclusion of stock where it provides an efficient and effective method of preventing the direct deposition of pathogens, and damage to the bed or banks of waterbodies.

McIvor said: “B+LNZ, Federated Farmers and DINZ want to work with government to help develop this detail to ensure that changes to the regulations are outcome-driven, practical, fair, and workable for farmers.”