Thursday, December 7, 2023

Labour announces $50m boost to help fund farm plans

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The Labour Party is pledging $50 million to help farmers pay for comprehensive farm plans.
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The initial investment would help fund plans that meet all on-property requirements for farmers and growers, including environmental management, labour, biosecurity and health and safety, replacing the overlapping and wide ranging reporting, auditing and consents that are currently required.

“By partnering with the industry we will create a single planning framework that will reduce costs for every farmer and grower, reduce the burden of compliance and help our agri-sector get greater economic returns for their products,” Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern along with Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced the policy at  Green Valley Dairies in the Hauraki Plains on September 23.

The funding would simplify the expectations for farmers and in the future may be used as a tool to remove some of the regulatory burden farmers face. That could mean in the future removing some of the consenting processes by having farm plans, Ardern said.

“They are already in use and it’s our job to make sure we integrate them with what we are doing at a government and local government level.

“It’s an opportunity to use something that’s already an important tool on farm and remove duplication and some of the consenting process that some farmers might already be experiencing.”

Farmers with existing plans will not need a new plan. Instead,  it will be integrated into their existing plan to prevent duplication.

“For many it will be business as usual but the requirements and bottom lines we have put in place around freshwater will require them to bring those plans out and update them.,” O’Connor added.

Damien O'Connor | September 28, 2020 from GlobalHQ on Vimeo.

O’Connor said the government had spent two years working with industry to create the best possible farm plan template.  He said it can cost farmers and growers between $5000 and $10,000 for each property to develop an integrated farm plan and we will create a cost-sharing agreement with industry that will ensure every farmer and grower pays less for their compliance.

“Cohesive national farm plans that adopt a whole-farm approach will ensure that we stay ahead of the curve internationally when it comes to good farming practice,” he said.

One of the first plan templates to be rolled out will replace the consent process for intensive winter grazing. 

“Working with the regional councils and the industry we will design a template that makes applying for intensive winter grazing consent much easier or, over time, supersedes the need for the consent process,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said they will work with farmers and regional councils and other officials to make sure there are practical and implementable proposals and that farmers get assistance in compiling the plans.

Working out how the freshwater reforms are to be implemented could not be done from Wellington because every farm plan will be different. 

“It’s impossible for us to write those farm plans from wellington. We do set the bottom lines and that’s what we’ve done.”

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