Beef + Lamb NZ and rural advocacy group 50 Shades of Green have launched a campaign to raise awareness about what they see as crippling government policies.
The Kiwis Backing Farmers campaign highlights what it says is an overwhelming wave of policies and proposals threatening the future of sheep and beef farms and rural communities across New Zealand.
BLNZ chair Andrew Morrison said the cumulative impact of all the policy changes affecting sheep and beef farmers is massive and likely to drive many to consider if they have a future in the sector.
“The conversion of whole productive sheep and beef farms into carbon farms, impractical freshwater reforms, excessive methane targets and heavy-handed measures that disincentivise biodiversity protection are among the policies the red meat sector is demanding the government fix,” he said.
“Our farmers are actively working to address climate change, improve our waterways and protect New Zealand’s biodiversity, and we’ve been making great strides in lifting our environmental performance.
“However, farmers are snowed under and exhausted. The prime minister recently acknowledged the government has gone too far, too fast in some areas and agriculture is definitely one of those areas.
“The government needs to pause some of its policy programme and focus on getting the policies right before pressing on. Areas such as such as biodiversity and RMA [Resource Management Act] reform are critical to get right for future generations. But they’re rushing consultation and not engaging properly with the people on the ground who are expected to implement the policies.
“Many farmers are also doing it tough in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle – having the right policies in place is now more important than ever so they can quickly get back on their feet.
“We need New Zealanders to stand up, back the world’s best sheep and beef farmers and ensure our sector gets sensible and workable policies.”
At the heart of the campaign is the www.kiwisbackingfarmers.nz website, which outlines policy solutions and enables Kiwis to show their support for sheep and beef farmers by sending their views directly to the government.
Gwyn Jones of 50 Shades of Green has been at the forefront of this issue with B+LNZ.
“We are not anti-forestry and strongly support the integration of trees within farms,” Jones said.
“However, as the carbon price increases, more and more food producing farms are being sold and converted into carbon farms so fossil-fuel emitters can offset their emissions rather than reduce them. It’s a short-term solution that is frankly kicking the can down the road at the expense of rural communities, and our economy.”