Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is committed to working with the government to progress its roadmap for improving water quality.
B+LNZ Chairman Andrew Morrison says sheep and beef farmers know how important freshwater is to New Zealanders, and while many have made good progress on reducing their environmental footprint, there is still work to be done.
“Good environmental management is important to our consumers and so it is vital we get this right. Many of the areas of concern, and actions outlined in the government’s roadmap today, align with the goals and actions included in B+LNZ’s environment strategy launched earlier this year.
“Our approach is focused on the need to match farming practices to the land’s capabilities. We share the Government’s goal of cleaner water. This is one of the four goals in our environment strategy, that New Zealanders should be able to gather food and swim in the freshwater surrounding sheep and beef farms.”
B+LNZ’s environment strategy aims for every farmer to have a farm environment plan by 2021 and significantly lifts the organisation’s support for catchment groups, where farmers are able to coordinate across wide areas to improve environmental outcomes.
Good progress is already being made, with work underway to build on the 40 percent of sheep and beef farmers who currently have some form of farm environment plan in place, says Morrison.
“B+LNZ is also investing in a number of projects to ensure we have the best data to understand the impact our farmers are having on the environment, which will be vital to ensure good policy development.
“We are also working with a wide range of partners, so farmers have access to state- of- the-art tools to implement and use on their properties. Examples include partnering with the developers of the Land Utilisation Capability Indicator (LUCI) and Mitigator, which will improve on the identification and minimisation of contaminant flows into waterways,” he says.
“B+LNZ is leading a five-year project, co-funded with the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), that will look at the most sustainable development of hill country and we are also developing a tool with Landcare to look at the most efficient use of hill cropping.
“We’re ready to partner with the government to build on what’s already being done. The outline of a clear roadmap is helpful as it will help us prioritise our efforts and provide more certainty to farmers about where changes may occur.
“We are also pleased that the sheep and beef sector is well-represented on the Freshwater Leaders Group through Graeme Gleeson, Farmer Council member for Northern North Island, and Corina Jordan, B+LNZ Environment Policy Manager. Sheep and beef farms are diverse and it is vital those advising on the new rules understand our systems.”