Research published by Local Government New Zealand shows the enormous impact on land use the Government’s freshwater proposals will really have, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“If implemented, these proposals are going to see farmers in the Waikato go out of business and their land be converted into a sea of trees.

“According to the modelling, sheep and beef farming is expected to fall by 68 per cent, while dairy would be reduced by 13 per cent. Meanwhile plantation forestry would boom by an astonishing 160 per cent.

“Plantation forestry would then account for over 50 per cent of farmland in Waikato, as these onerous regulations make sheep and beef farming completely untenable.

“We can only get improved water quality and prosperous rural communities if farmers can see a way to farm their way to better environmental outcomes. These proposals take farmers’ options off the table and are a disaster for the Waikato.

“There has been huge investment made and improvements are occurring with Land, Air, Water Aotearoa’s data showing improvement in eight out of nine water quality indicators across our rivers.

“There is more to be done but these changes only take the profitability out of dairy, which therefore means there is less money for environmental investment. The farmer’s voice has to be heard in this debate or we are all in deep trouble. This goes way beyond the kitchen table of our local farmers as it will cut deep into the economy of Hamilton and surrounding towns.

“When Local Government feels the need to send a shot across the bow of Central Government the Minister must take notice. These proposals will have dire consequences for rural New Zealand.”

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