Ten years for our farmers to get the stock and effluent out of our waterways

About time…some recommendations worth pursuing for our waterways.

Farmers should have to exclude nearly all livestock from rivers and streams by 2025, the Government has been told.

The Land and Water Forum released its fourth report today, which had 60 new recommendations for the Government on freshwater management.

Chairman Alastair Bisley said that the proposals outlined a “workable and balanced” management system which would facilitate growth within environmental limits.

Mr Bisley expressed disappointment that the Government had not adopted most of the 153 recommendations made in three previous reports, and urged ministers to make further changes “without delay”.

One of the forum’s members, the Environmental Defence Society, reiterated the need for urgent changes.

“Water quality in our lowland streams and rivers is poor and the current system is demonstrably failing to deliver the outcomes the public wants,” chairman Gary Taylor said. ??

Environment Minister Nick Smith said the Government planned to make “big progress” on the issue of water quality next year. The forum’s report would provide “vital ingredients” for a planned discussion document on freshwater management.

The Government has already adopted some of the forum’s previous recommendations, including a National Policy Statement for freshwater. It has also introduced a bottom line for water quality, though some forum members believed it was too weak.

One of the forum’s main recommendations in the new report was exclude most livestock on lowlands and plains from rivers within a set timeframe.

“We have recommended a framework to exclude all cattle, deer and pigs from waterways on the plains and lowland hills,” Mr Bisley said.

Dairy cattle and pigs would be excluded by 2017, and deer and beef cattle would be excluded by 2025. Councils would also be able to require stock exclusion in areas of high ecological value.

Government has signalled a national regulation for excluding dairy cattle from rivers and streams, which could be introduced in mid-2017.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said today that farmers were making fast progress in voluntarily fencing off waterways, and 95 per cent of dairy cattle were now excluded from rivers and streams.

He said other types of animals would be excluded “in time”.

What I would do is tie dairy payouts to water quality.


Easy…in the towns and cities we have a grading system for cafes, restaurants etc regarding health and cleanliness. Rated A through E. The restaurants have to display their rating prominently and no one seriously eats in places?with a rating lower than a B. Bad and unhygienic businesses go out of business. We could do the same thing with farms.

Farmers should have a series of water quality measurements and remedial actions to undertake to improve waterways. They should have to display their rating prominently in order to bring peer pressure to bear. And there should be a financial incentive. Milk payouts could be docked if their rating is below an A. The funds docked are then matched by the regional council and used to fund the remedial actions on the farm to clean up the waterways. A further levy could be charged against the milk company to assist.

I think it has merit…no doubt some will disagree. But I think a carrot and stick approach is what is needed.


– NZ Herald