National Policy Statement draft ‘badly timed’
Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has called the Government’s release of the Indigenous Biodiversity National Policy Statement (NPS) exposure draft legislation badly timed and ill-considered. “We’re extremely disappointed with the timing of this release, coming just one day after a major announcement on the pricing of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions,” said B +LNZ chief executive Sam Mcivor. “Farmers are feeling overwhelmed with the environment-related policy changes that have already come their way, on top of labour shortages, high on-farm inflation and managing Covid-19. “Work is still under way on getting the freshwater and climate change policies right, let alone fully implemented, so it’s frustrating the Government is putting out yet more environment legislation.” Sam says farmers are passionate about biodiversity and are actively protecting and restoring the indigenous habitats they have on their farms, but they had major concerns with the original Indigenous Biodiversity NPS. “This was particularly in relation to the broad definition of a Significant Natural Area, which would have restricted agricultural activities on a significant proportion of their farms,” he said. “We hope the Government has taken these concerns into account and will be studying this closely. While there may be some improvements, B+LNZ has from the outset been calling for significant changes on key provisions. We expect genuine consultation and that we will be able to resolve all the issues our farmers have identified. B+LNZ believes farmers are playing their part and are leaders in the protection of biodiversity. Sam says sheep and beef farmers are the largest custodians of indigenous biodiversity in NZ after the conservation estate, and they actively manage native vegetation on thousands of farms across New Zealand. “On average, about 25 per cent of sheep and beef farms are covered in native vegetation and our farmers are very proud of this,” he said. “These regulations need to be enabling for farmers to carry on that work while not restricting farming. “These policies have significant impacts on farming business costs and day to day operations, and it’s hard to believe the Government is willing to compromise the viability of a sector that has been a standout during the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to be critical to our postcovid economic recovery. “It’s also worth noting that the climate change and freshwater policies already introduced, and the huge amount of work under way through farm planning, will have a positive impact on biodiversity outcomes. “We’re not asking for nothing to happen — we just need the Government to slow down. Slow down to get the policies right, without the need for rework, and slow down so farmers can plan ahead and ensure their businesses remain sustainable in every sense of the word. B+LNZ also say the six-week consultation period on the draft legislation is also inadequate given how complex this policy area is and at the very least this period needs to be extended.