This proposal is of huge significance to farmers.
Concern about some aspects of it has been clear since the first public meeting in Ashburton where 350 people turned up. We saw similarly strong turnouts at other meetings.
Over the past two months DairyNZ staff have attended more than 40 Essential Freshwater meetings and events from Northland to Southland.
As well as attending Ministry for the Environment and farmer-organised meetings DairyNZ also hosted farmer meetings, held submission drop-in sessions to support farmers with submission writing and hosted webinars to explain the proposals and gather feedback.
We have had more than 2000 farmers and rural professionals attend the events we hosted or presented at.
We have received feedback from farmers that they appreciated having our experts on hand to answer questions and provide clear information about how the proposals will affect farms.
Across the country farmers have been busy calving. The busy time of year and tight timeframe saw DairyNZ, along with other primary sector organisations, lobby the Government to extend the submission timeframe.
Though we would all have liked longer we did achieve a two-week extension.
DairyNZ’s water quality scientists, policy experts and economists have spent the past two months working through the detail to understand the implications of the Essential Freshwater package.
As many farmers and local councils have commented, the Government’s package does not assess the true impact of the proposals on rural communities.
In DairyNZ’s submission our economists have modelled the combined impacts of the freshwater package and the Zero Carbon Bill on rural communities and on farms.
And our water quality scientists have been analysing the effectiveness of these proposals on water quality.
They have also considered alternative options which could lead to the ecosystem health improvements we all want to see.
Everyone is keen to see healthier waterways and farmers have been very active on their own farms adopting new practices to improve water quality.
Water quality is a complex issue and we need solutions informed by science, as well as by practical experience of what is achievable and effective on the ground in rural and urban areas.
That’s why we have really appreciated so many farmers taking the time to attend Essential Freshwater meetings and make submissions sharing their thoughts on such an important issue.
Read DairyNZ’s submission online at dairynz.co.nz/freshwater