The marathon of environmental regulations

Sprints and roundabouts


 
By Charlotte Glass, Director and founder of Agri Magic Ltd
 
Marathons are made up of mini-moments – some are sprints, some are pivots, and some just feel like two steps backwards. Getting the best out of the environmental regulations can feel like tackling a marathon, but overall, the challenge will be worth it.


 

Doing the hard yards – consenting

As I discussed in the last issue, it is very messy for farmers, and buyers and sellers, in the consenting space at present, as our regional councils work together to find pragmatic solutions to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management and its associated rules. Freshwater consenting has certainly morphed into an onerous beast, with the lack of process and clarity and the impracticality of some of these rules proving challenging at best.
 
My advice remains the same.

To keep things moving forward, focus on the principles, take time and expert advice to understand how your farming operations impact your environment and piece together options and plans case by case.

Do absolutely thorough due diligence when buying and selling properties, and do not underestimate the devil in the details.


 

On the home straight – carbon neutral by 2050

The environmental regulations aren’t only about freshwater quality – biodiversity, emissions targets and carbon are also essential considerations in designing future farm systems. And there’s been excellent news from the industry research teams associated with Beef + Lamb and DairyNZ.
 
Last October, researchers estimated that woody vegetation on NZ sheep and beef farms is offsetting on average 90 percent of their on-farm agricultural emissions (the range was 63–118%), and that our sheep and beef farmers are well on the way to being carbon neutral by 2050. Impressive.

In January, DairyNZ released more good news, showing that NZ dairy farming has the lowest carbon footprint for milk in the world. Not only that, it is less than half the global average!

The future sounds bright for farmers producing food and fibre. In general, our farmers are smart, capable and perhaps most importantly right now, adaptable. The challenges we face in relation to freshwater, carbon and biodiversity are being felt the world over. The things you need to know and understand might be different as a farmer in the future, but if we keep doing this well, it will cement this country’s role as exporters to the world. And that’s a marathon worth winning.


 
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