Solution for Southland farmers’ winter consents

6 May 2020

A solution has been found for Southland farmers who may require a new wintering consent, or variation, this year.

DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, Environment Southland and Landpro, with support from Beef + Lamb NZ, have worked together to establish a solution for Southland farmers – who can now complete a questionnaire to notify council of their changes this winter.

Southland farmers are facing unprecedented conditions following February’s floods and the flow-on effects of meat processing reductions under COVID-19, which is seeing some farms carry more stock into winter than their current consent or the permitted activity criteria allows.

This means farmers may require a land-use consent or variation to an existing consent under the new ‘intensive winter grazing’ rules in the proposed Southland Water and Land Plan.

“This solution will be a quick and effective process, known as a ‘deemed permitted activity’. Support from farm consultants will not be needed,” said Dr David Burger, DairyNZ strategic investment leader – responsible dairy. 

“As a new wintering consent or variation would usually take up to six months to apply for and receive, this will make things easy and stress-free for farmers.”

The process for a farmer who will temporarily carry more stock or a greater area of winter grazing than usual, will be to get in touch with Environment Southland consents team. Farmers can complete and submit the COVID-19 Pandemic Farming Questionnaire on the Environment Southland website.

Applications for ‘deemed permitted activity’ notices will be processed within five working days and issued for this winter period ending September 30.

“The circumstances created by COVID-19 are exceptional and we’ve developed a practical solution to ensure farmers remain compliant, despite the huge challenges that COVID-19 has brought,” said Dr Burger.

“This process will help farmers keep their primary focus on looking after their farms and the environment, so they can ensure the best care for their cows, land and water particularly as we head into winter and then calving.

“It’s important that good management practices continue to be adopted and followed throughout this time and where applicable, all farms operate in accordance with their Farm Environmental Plans.”

The Southland Dairy Leaders Group identified the situation and asked for help finding a solution. The group of farmers and dairy sector representatives works to ensure a viable and sustainable dairy sector in the Southland Region.

Environment Southland acting consents manager Aurora Grant said the council realised that the exceptional circumstances the Southland farming community is facing may lead to technical temporary or marginal non-compliance with the rules.

“Depending on your situation, there are a number of regulatory solutions available to you if you are no longer able to fit the permitted activity rules.

“The main solution that is available is the Deemed Permitted Activity notice, however it doesn’t negate the need for farmers to continue to implement good management practices on farm. It won’t fit every situation but we anticipate it will provide relief for those who need to hold over stock until they are able to get them off farm.

“It is important to get in touch and tell us about your circumstances, and our consents team will be able to advise the best solution for your situation,” said Ms Grant.

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt said it is great that a solution has been found for local farmers.

“This is a simple process that enables farmers to be compliant with regulation, despite the unpredictable situation they are facing this season. This is a great example of strong and effective collaboration by agencies to provide the best possible solutions for farmers.”

Farmers can seek advice from DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, Environment Southland or Federated Farmers.

DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ provide support and resources to farmers to ensure good management practice for winter grazing. For more information and guidance visit dairynz.co.nz/wintering or beeflambnz.com/wintergrazing.

Contact Environment Southland
Farmers planning to carry more stock or a greater area of winter grazing should get in touch with Environment Southland consents team 0800 76 88 45, or email esconsents@es.govt.nz.

Farmers can complete the questionnaire online or download a copy at https://bit.ly/COVID19-farming and email it to the Environment Southland consent team.

Media inquiries:

Vanessa Fever

Senior Communications and Media Specialist

Phone 027 836 6295

Vanessa.feaver@dairynz.co.nz

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