“Farmers need more time to consider the Government’s proposal and to carefully weigh up the impact it may have on their farms, families and communities,” said Dr Mackle.
“Essential Freshwater will significantly impact the way we farm in New Zealand. If this process is to have any integrity the Minister must extend the consultation period to allow farmers time to digest the proposal and engage in a meaningful way.
“Spring is a busy time for farmers with calving, lambing and mating. They have a lot on their plate at the moment and this is adding to it.
“At the end of the day, farmers are farmers, not policy people. I can’t recall a time in our history that we have had to ask them to write this number of submissions in one season – Zero Carbon Bill, the pricing of agricultural emissions and now Essential Freshwater.
“The huge numbers of farmers showing up at the small number of public meetings really speaks to the interest and anxiety of the rural sector at the moment. It also shows how much farmers want to engage with the process in a constructive way.
“We are seeing public meetings where the Ministry for the Environment has set up 200 chairs and had more than double that number show up.
“The level of interest should be of no surprise to the Government. Farmers have been working extremely hard over the last two decades to improve water quality.
“Water quality is very important to all New Zealanders and our communities. Dairy farmers are part of the community, like everyone else, and we want to see improvements.
“The Government needs to give farmers a fair chance to input into this process and extend the consultation period,” Dr Mackle concluded.
DairyNZ is encouraging dairy farmers to review the proposed Essential Freshwater Package and provide submissions – www.dairynz.co.nz/freshwater
Senior Communications Advisor