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Farmer Lyn Neeson says the more comprehensive approach by the Land and Water Forum is a better solution that the Horizons One Plan. She urges a change of direction before the 'real costs' are forced on everyone

Posted in Rural News

By Lyn Neeson*

When my husband and I purchased our first 345 hectares in 1987, we never thought 25 years later we’d be fighting a regional council for survival.

Through good years and bad, we have worked hard to grow our farm to 1,500 hectares carrying 4,500 ewes and 250 Angus cattle over winter.

Farming keeps your feet on the ground because it is hard to have airs and graces during docking and shearing.

We also want to keep farming here.

Our son and his family have turned the farm into an intergenerational and sustainable business. Is their future and that of our grandson’s in these hills?

Starting back in 2005, the Horizons One Plan has so far cost ratepayers an astounding $15 million. Given the resources we have put in, let alone others involved in it, the true cost is probably closer to $30 million.

The potential cost of implementation is an added concern and is why One Plan deserves some serious investigative journalism.

All we have to show for our millions is paper.

While Gareth Morgan has low regard for my intellect and my profession, surely he can see that cutting a large driver of your regional economy doesn’t grow it.

Then again Bruce Gordon, the chair of Horizons, has been telling media that farmers ought to relax.

With elections due in 2013, we should believe him when he says that Horizons will go soft on farmers and review the One Plan after a couple of years, changing it, if it doesn’t work.

He erroneously tells us to don’t panic, believing One Plan’s effect on farms will be minimal at less than one percent.

I am yet to decide if we are living through an episode of Dad’s Army or Fawlty Towers, but I do know the council has as much discretion on rules as the Police have at a checkpoint.

Fish & Game have been surprisingly quiet on the going soft option. I am sure they are just biding their time because 'going soft' invites direction from the Environment Court; rules are rules after all.

As for the one percent claim, really? That was the 2010 Decisions Version and not the 2012 Environment Court reality we and the Tararua Growers Association face.

This is why we exercised our legal right to appeal.

If One Plan is as minimal as Mr Gordon believes, just ask a councillor how they will implement it. That generates more than a few ums.

Judging by an Official Information Act request, it seems the Ministries for the Environment and for Primary Industries (MPI) are as dubious about the ‘small affect’ as we are.

There is not much fresh produce in a Wellington pantry or fridge that won’t have come from a farm or market garden in the Horizons region.

As for Wellington’s Farmer’s Markets, most of what people buy has likely come from ‘up the road’. That the Tararua Growers Association and HortNZ are shoulder to shoulder with Federated Farmers proves how vast One Plan’s drift net is.

Truth be told, the Manawatu River is not among the worst in the western world and never has been. The river recently got a fair rating for swimming quality from the Ministry for the Environment. Even Fish & Game lauds the river as a world-class sport fishery, albeit, when they want to sell licenses to anglers.

Given the Manawatu is cleaner than the Hutt River, what do the community truly want?

Horizons Regional Council could introduce a variation today effectively reinstating the 2010 Decisions Version. The original Horizons One Plan panel was an independent one, which included councillors and appointed experts including a former Environment Court judge. After two years of preparation and hearings we had a plan in 2010 we could live with. Or, so we thought.

That was turned on its head when Horizons didn’t defend the collaboratively agreed Decisions Version in the Environment Court.

Ultimately the court rejected the independent hearings panel and the clock went back to 2007.

The council could easily shift gears by reinstating the 2010 version, given what we now know from work done for the Land & Water Forum.

The MPI has found farm profitability will take hits in the 22-43 percent range. This is massively greater than what the council found and means unprecedented land use and social change.

Hill country sheep will be replaced by trees while lowland cows, crops and vegetables will be replaced by sheep.

Skilled trades and manufacturing dependent on farms will leave meaning less need for accountants, teachers, doctors, medical services or even, shops.

These social impacts are real but were ignored by Horizons Regional Council.

It needs to be heard. So let’s give collaboration a chance by a One Plan variation reinstating the 2010 Decisions Version.

It is the version most aligned to the current Land and Water Forum way of thinking.

If Gareth Morgan disagrees with me, he is free to buy a farmer’s organisation to put on his mantelpiece beside the Phoenix and the Hurricanes. Better yet, what about a farm or two?

----------------------------------------------------------

Lyn Neeson is Federated Farmers Ruapehu provincial president and is a sheep and beef farmer from Taumarunui. This was originally published in the Dominion Post.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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12 Comments

I read the environment court

I read the environment court decision which found against you (farmers polluting) Lyn and for Horizon One.
 
In it farmers said - under oath - they were are unaware of the need to manage nitrogen leaching and unaware of techniques in how to do it. In ohter words, not only did farmers not know they were badly polluting, they didn't know how to stop doing it. This really is absolutely crazy stuff Lyn.
 
There are low cost techniques to farm with far less pollution. I have a visited a dairy farm using biological farming techniques that singificantly reduces pollution, doesn't cost more to run and has better returns. Have you?
 
You've got a lot of chutzpha coming on here trying to pretend to everyone no change is needed. We've all got eyes. When we got out in the country and see the state of our rivers it is disgusting

"when we got out in the

"when we got out in the country and see the state of our rivers it's disgusting"
I can only assume you drive past streams in towns and cities with your eyes closed cause most are way beyond disgusting if still existing at all.
Not that that or the simply ignoring of consents by councils waste treatment is any excuse for the attitude above.

From the court’s

From the court’s judgment

“We were more than a little surprised to hear the country’s largest dairy farming-related organisation, which champions the Dairying and Clean Stream Accord as a model of voluntary environmental best practice telling us that….there are land managers out there unaware of the need to manage N loss from pastures and unaware of available techniques to do so” 

Key words “available techniques”. Why don’t you please check those out Lyn!

You live in la la land...you

You live in la la land...you need to step back and consider what you are really saying to future NZers....about your actions today.
"we dont care what damage we are doing today.....that's your problem to fix tomorrow"
I cant quite see that as moral myself.
regards

Think king canute. In terms

Think king canute.
In terms of skills leaving, consider once the land is so damaged it cant support what it can now that these skills will leave then, all you are doing is can kicking....
Then consider what peak oil does to your farm economics.
Or climate change...
All these will change how many if not all things are done......
In my experience, moving early on a something is less painful....
regards
 
 

Cut out the emotional "Dad’s

Cut out the emotional "Dad’s Army or Fawlty Towers" stuff and get onto to facts, Lyn.
As for collaboration, my parents farm in the '60s was close to a soil conservation experimental & educational farm, collaborating with farmers to cut down on the horrifying erosion etc.  50 years later I go past the same farms & the erosion is the same - so how much time do you need for "collaboration" to take hold?
Everyone in NZ has standards to meet now - factories, education, health, social services, retailing, even volunteer organisations!  So why should farmers be exempt?

"The council could easily

"The council could easily shift gears by reinstating the 2010 version, given what we now know from work done for the Land & Water Forum."
Lyn, doing a variation to go back to the 'decisions version' following the hearing is the same as lodging a fresh plan change, it would have to be publicly notified and it would just be appealed straight back to the Environment Court, who have already decided teh 2010 version wasn't right... your solution won't work.

Lyn Neeson has confirmed to

Lyn Neeson has confirmed to me just how out of whack Fed Farmers are with the rest of the country.
Let`s see....
 `While Gareth Morgan has low regard for my intellect and my profession...`
Oh for God`s sake.... grow up!
Gareth, like most of us, acknowledge that farmers are an essential part of New Zealand`s economy. But your profits have lacked the cost of your environmental impacts... a tab the rest of us have had to pick up for far too long.
... it seems the Ministries for the Environment and for Primary Industries (MPI) are as dubious about the ‘small affect’ as we are.
Wouldn`t have anything to do with National being the govt and David Carter being MPI Minister would it?
That the Tararua Growers Association and HortNZ are shoulder to shoulder with Federated Farmers proves how vast One Plan’s drift net is.
The drift net should cover the whole country!
The fact that farmers and land users should monitor and know the extent of nitrogen leaching is surely a fundamental responsibility. So sorry Lyn, but that means putting your hand in your pocket and actually paying for it. I take it you`re unaware just how much townies have to pay local authorities for land use, consent, and development? If a private developer tried to make the taxpayer liable for the costs associated with their business, I`m sure you`d be outraged (even though just how much tax farmers actually pay has a question mark over it...).
Head in the sand pieces like this, from a provincial President of Fed Farmers no less, demonstrate a complete LACK of collaboration from farmers.
And the rest of New Zealand, i.e. the majority, are sick of it.

Duke, please detail what the

Duke, please detail what the 'tab the rest of us have had to pick up for far too long' exactly for you has been. I hear this statement, but haven't as yet had anyone able to define it. Cheers.

It has often been said that

It has often been said that progress happens one funeral at a time. This article would seem to verify that view. A generational change is needed in farming. If you want to keep your profits on the land then keep your problems there too. 
I too pay Regional council rates. I wantr to get rid of this beauracracy. Regional councils are catchment based for a reason. They are a response to water quality issues. So sort them out at source and lets unwind these monsters. On a recent trip from Invercargill to Taupo it seems that regional council offices ( and vet clinics) are the new pyramids of our time. 
So sort your s**t out for the sake of us all!!

How about urban councils sort

How about urban councils sort their s..t out too.  Until they do, it is the pot calling the kettle black.
 
Labour MP Damien O'Connor says farmers should not be the only ones held accountable for the pollution of rivers.
Mr O'Connor, Labour's primary industries spokesman, said the public needed to be more aware that city and district councils' wastewater treatment plants were more detrimental to the health of rivers than farmers were.
http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/7989139/Farmers-not-only-p...
 

“Farming keeps your feet on

“Farming keeps your feet on the ground because it is hard to have airs and graces during docking and shearing.”
Aside from this statement having no relevance whatsoever to the topic (it seems to be an attempt to establish superiority), some of the snobbiest people I’ve ever met have been farmer’s wives.
 
“Judging by an Official Information Act request, it seems the Ministries for the Environment and for Primary Industries (MPI) are as dubious about the ‘small affect’ as we are … The MPI has found farm profitability will take hits in the 22-43 percent range.”
Do some research and I think you’ll find the figure of 22-43 percent has been pulled out of some incompetent’s arse.
 
“While Gareth Morgan has low regard for my intellect and my profession, surely he can see that cutting a large driver of your regional economy doesn’t grow it … Skilled trades and manufacturing dependent on farms will leave meaning less need for accountants, teachers, doctors, medical services or even, shops.”
There are some pretty good economics blogs around – why don’t you start reading them?
 
“There is not much fresh produce in a Wellington pantry or fridge that won’t have come from a farm or market garden in the Horizons region … As for Wellington’s Farmer’s Markets, most of what people buy has likely come from ‘up the road’.”
The relevance of this emotive drivel is what exactly? It seems to be along the lines of how us urban types should be ever so grateful to farmers for producing food.
 
Lyn Neeson, you have done your cause no favours with this poorly reasoned, poorly researched article. I wonder if you are conscious of the numerous putdowns of non-farmers you have engaged in, or is your sense of superiority and entitlement so ingrained that you don’t even understand what you’re doing?