National to make sweeping changes to farm regs

National has announced sweeping changes to farm regulations which will improve access to workers, restore local decision-making, and protect food production, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd McClay and Environment spokesperson Scott Simpson say.

“New Zealand farmers are the world’s best and among the most carbon efficient,” Mr McClay says.

“They also help New Zealand pay its way in the world with dairy, meat, wool and horticulture being New Zealand’s largest export earners. Last year, agricultural exports totalled $41 billion, or 63 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports.” 

Mr Simpson says farmers are hard-working, productive and they care about their environment, but Labour has imposed more than 20 new or updated laws and regulations on them since 2017.

“National’s Getting back to Farming package makes 19 changes to rules and regulations,” says Mr McClay.

“These changes will help farmers get on with earning the income on which their livelihoods, New Zealand’s economy, and New Zealanders’ standard of living, depend.”

“This is about using targeted rules with clear environmental limits so farmers can work with confidence,” says Mr Simpson.

“National is committed to this country’s climate change goals. We know shutting down some of the world’s most carbon efficient farmers only sends production to less efficient farms overseas and could raise global emissions.

“We can protect the environment and allow farmers to get on with business by reining in the bureaucracy and using clear, well-targeted rules instead. That’s what National’s Getting back to Farming package will do.”

“Farmers are the backbone of the New Zealand economy. National backs farmers,” says Mr McClay.

Getting back to Farming is the first of National’s agriculture policies and includes:

Deliver smarter rules for the future

  1. Introduce a 2-for-1 rule for the next three years: for every new regulation that central or local government wants to introduce on the rural sector they must take away two.
  2. Require local and central government to assess the costs of all new rules on the rural sector and publish the findings.
  3. Establish a permanent Rural Regulation Review Panel to consider every local and central government regulation affecting farmers and advise the central Government on solutions.
  4. Introduce a no duplication rule – the Government cannot ask farmers for the same information twice. It is up to officials to share supplied information where appropriate within the system.
  5. Make appointments to reference and advisory groups based on skills and experience not politics.
  6. Commit to real consultation – officials must consult in a genuine, open and transparent basis and respect differing views.

Supercharge the rural economy

  1. Double the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) worker cap over five years to 38,000 per year and explore other countries entering the RSE scheme.
  2. Change Accredited Employer Work Visas for agriculture to create a path to residency and eliminate the median wage requirement to allow wages in line with local workers.
  3. Ban foreign direct investment for the purpose of converting farms to forestry to collect carbon credits.
  4. Focus the definition of Significant Natural Areas on areas that are significant by making the rules workable and clear for landowners and councils.
  5. Change the National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land to allow a broader range of productive rural activities such as on-farm storage ponds and sheds and off-farm dairy factories and vegetable processing.
  6. Scrap the ute tax.

Get Wellington out of farming

  1. Change rules for culverts and how wetlands are defined in legislation to only cover actual wetlands, rather than areas with limited environmental value.
  2. Make stock exclusion rules more practical to protect critical source areas while avoiding unintended consequences like unnecessarily large exclusion zones for small water bodies.
  3. Amend the proposed National Environmental Standard for drinking water to avoid excessive compliance requirements for small providers of 30 connections or fewer and return autonomy to small rural communities.
  4. Defer central government rules requiring resource consents for winter grazing until freshwater farm plans are in place, with freshwater plans to become risk- and outcomes-based.
  5. Replace the winter grazing low slope map and low slope rules for stock exclusion with more effective catchment-level rules to accommodate regional differences.
  6. Restart the live exports of cattle with gold standard rules set in regulation to protect animal welfare and safety. National will require purpose-built ships and introduce a certification regime for the importers of destination countries to ensure animals live in conditions at the same standards required in New Zealand.

Repeal Labour’s rebranded Three Waters and replace it with Local Water Done Well – National’s plan to restore council ownership and control of water assets while ensuring water services are financially sustainable.


Read our full policy here.