4 October 2011
By Ray McCrostie
On Wednesday Sept 5, ES stated at a Waituna Catchment Group meeting that:
The science is incomplete we acknowledge that, but we have to do something and at this stage we’re not exactly sure what – our policy and rules are only at the draft stage. But we are implementing major policy change on Sept 29.
At that point those in the farming fraternity said “Whoa.”
To let ES and DOC, whose history of inaction and procrastination are a large part of the reason we’re in this mess, charge in and try to play catch up with an attitude like that would be irresponsible and unfair on the farmers in Waituna, indeed Southland.
After some intensive lobbying by Fed Farmers, and others, particularly about the time of year, ES backed off a little in respect of their timeline for the changes.
So, at my request, on Tuesday Sept 20, and to give him credit, Warren Tuckey fronted up to a group of nine of us with his new proposed rules and policies. He looked us in the eye and laid the way forward as he sees it.
He suggested: A resource consent would be required for intensification of land use, as it would be for certain levels of fertiliser (that promise pretty average yields), rules for winter crops and drainage and whole of farm consents (cost free, that on the face of it, don’t look too bad) – but it’s the door that it opens that worries us.
Just to make it palatable, there would be a sunset clause meaning that all the rules expire on 31 December 2014 (Yeah Right!!)
I probably should be more specific, but if you don’t care enough to find out the precise details from Fed Farmers or whomever, then I guess you’ll be happy with what you get.
Now I know all Southland farmers, and others are looking on, and if you think we’re being treated fairly and, more importantly, in a way that you would like to be treated, that’s fine because there’s a roadshow like ours coming to a place near you real soon.
As far as the farmers in the Waituna Catchment are concerned we’ve had no positive enforcement from ES in regard to the negative publicity. No highlighting the good things going on and the efforts we are making to protect our patch. And this was supposed to be a collaborative approach.
On August 24, as 60 witnesses will attest, after a publicly notified meeting held at Kapuka South I was given a mandate to act and speak on their behalf, so this is where we’re at:
“To all the people that have written to the paper, most of you make valid comments, and that is the point exactly.
“We are all individuals, but we are all dependent on the environment and we all deserve a say.
“I, for one, have listened.
“But unfortunately whether accidentally, or by design, only one side of the story has made it out through the mainstream media.
“The result being that we, in Waituna Catchment, have ALL been labelled as polluters.”
Now there is a group of unified Waituna farmers with me as spokesman/facilitator.
There is Joanne Crack, who wants to put in sediment traps, and see some physical works occur in the catchment.
There is Rodney Trainor (our Cultural Advisor) Rodney is of Ngai Tahu descent, has qualifications in Environmental Management and Research. Already some of his Iwi mates have bought probes from Christchurch to test for N and P, he wants to do practical things to help.
There is Derek Ballantine (he has heaps of historical farming and weather related records). Derek has a lot of good ideas on how to mitigate bank erosion and thinks his, is a good place to start.
There is Wally Jack (SDC) Finally an elected representative that hasn’t forgotten who voted for him. He just turned up and said: “Where can I help, I have the time the experience and can call on reinforcements if you wish,” he’s very well thought of in all the right places. Wally has strengths in the policy and submission process areas.
We have our own website (www.farmnews.co.nz/waifight) and there is a lot of good people with contributions to make, but they are just lying low waiting to see which way this will go, can`t say I blame you for that.
Now there’s more than one way we can play all this… there’s the bureaucratic black hole that is the ES boardroom, where nothing but more meetings are planned, more data is called for and more science is organised.
Or, there is the option of supporting the farmers of Waituna in their efforts to actually make a difference by doing some physical works in the catchment.
So, if by any chance you’d like to support a bunch of motivated, dynamic, innovative cockies that actually own the assets that could make a difference really quickly then we’d like to hear from you.
Just remember, Waituna Farmers United, didn’t exist on August 24.
But we are now up-and-running at a time when ES was banking on us being too busy to care.