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June 23rd 2022 Update

Hi all.

Recently there have been 2 major policy announcements that will have, if adopted, massive implications for farmers. In both cases (emissions tax and SNAs) our farming representatives have agreed with policies that are unworkable, damaging to our sector, economy and environment, and widely opposed by farmers.

On the good news front Groundswell NZ is gaining huge momentum. This is where a lot of Jamies' energy is being directed and the following are the main issues:

  • Emissions tax/HWEN. Steve Cranston is leading the charge on behalf of Groundswell NZ on emissions and has done a number of articles and interviews post HWEN - including international media. Groundswell NZ representatives have regular zoom forums and email discussions with scientists, politicians, industry organisations and government agencies. Groundswell NZ are strongly opposed to the emissions tax and will be intensifying the campaign over the next few weeks. Here is a recent HWEN article of Jamies' in the Rural News

  • National Policy Statement Indigenous Biodiversity/SNAs. The second big issue is the release of the draft NPSIB (including SNAs). Not surprising little has changed. Beef+Lamb and others are squealing about the timing but the Government had always indicated mid 2022 and there is never good timing on a farming calendar. The problem is not timing, the problem is multiple unworkable regulations in silos. We will update more later on the NPSIB but Groundswells view is the entire legislation is so bad it should be thrown out. The fact that all our farming groups continue to support mandatory SNAs (even though widespread opposition by farmers and some councils) is further evidence that our advocacy system is broken. Jamie will be taking the lead on this issue on behalf of Groundswell NZ over the next few weeks and a media release went out yesterday.

  • Three Waters. The Groundswell NZ guys down south have mobilized on the Three Waters issue. While all of Canterburys councils (apart from Selwyn) have joined Communities 4 Local Democracy in opposing the Governments Three Waters proposal, most of Southland and Otago councils have not. Groundswell have coordinated with the Taxpayers Union in hosting meetings throughout the south with former TV presenter Peter Williams as guest speaker. There have been big turnouts and Groundswell coordinators are organizing similar events throughout the country. Groundswell NZ have written (attached) to all councils requesting they discuss and vote on the Three Waters issue in a public meeting, and that how each member votes be recorded. This issue will be a local government election issue. We put an article together on Three Waters which appeared in North Canterbury News (page 2, June 9 issue).

Chairmans comment: Two weeks ago I was guest speaker at a deer farm field day and a zoom session with regen farmers throughout NZ talking about environmental regulations. At both forums I asked the farmers did they want the truth no matter how bad it was. Unequivocally the answer was tell it how it is.

I don't like being negative as one thing with the Covid challenges I have learnt is to be adaptable, look for opportunities and seek out positivity. But sometimes you do have to tell it how it is. And one of RANs founding principles is that farmers should be provided with full information about policies that directly affect them.

The HWEN debacle has shown that we can no longer rely on our national farming advocates to provide accurate and full information to farmers. Examples including (1) claiming the HWEN options are better than the ETS even though no one knows what we will pay under HWEN and the full extent of the administration costs, and (2) the sequestration credits have been exaggerated and left farmers believing they can claim a lot more than what they can. We saw the same with the previous draft on Indigenous Biodiversity and RAN challenged our farming groups for failing to disclose an accurate and full summary of the implications.

The role of providing farmers with trustworthy accurate information will now fall to Groundswell NZ, RAN and other small groups like 50 Shades of Green. This will be a key role for RAN going forward.

Rural Advocacy Network

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