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Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says the proposals in the Government’s Fresh water discussion document are short sighted and will create more uncertainty for famers throughout the region

"While the National party actively supports water quality improvement and sustainable practices, many of the documents proposed changes will massively impact farming practices throughout the Waitaki and New Zealand.

"The economic fall-out from this will be extreme and far-reaching flowing onto Oamaru and all other rural townships throughout the country.

"The Essential Freshwater proposals will limit the flexibility of New Zealand farmers to adjust to market conditions and change their land use. The effects of this will restrict farmers from innovating, which is one of our key advantages."

Ms Dean says in the plan from June next year there will no further irrigation or dairy conversions unless there is evidence, they will not in any way contribute to waterway pollution. This will actively shut down any farm development for the next 5 years until regional councils come up with their Freshwater Management plans in 2025.

"This ‘interim control’ will have inevitable effect on the economy, with land values slumping and work drying up throughout the primary sector having a direct impact on local communities.

"These unnecessarily stringent targets will see some farms being required to reduce their nutrient levels by up to 80 percent, actively ending farming in these areas and destroying families and farming businesses.

"Farm practices throughout South Canterbury and the Waitaki will have to be drastically adapted across the board with new exclusion requirements and rules around winter grazing.

"Water is both a critical strategic asset and source of recreation in New Zealand and we all know it must be abundant, healthy, clean and cost effective. This is why farmers and the primary sector have been working so hard to make progress and improvements in this area."

Ms Dean says dairy farmers have already fenced off over 98 percent of waterways and spent over 1 billion dollars in environmental investment over the past 5 years. National applauds these efforts which acknowledging more needs to be done.

"This is an industry which has been concurrently hit with new taxes and on-farm costs by this Government - when they should really be being supported so they can continue to produce and keep the country afloat in such a challenging global environment.

"Our productive soils and abundant water mean we are one of the best food and fibre producers in the world. While we accept more needs to be done to ensure we retain this position while maintaining the quality of our waterways and environment - it cannot be to the detriment of the industry we rely so heavily on.

“These tight targets in such a small-time frame are impractical and dangerous and simply another knee jerk response from this Labour-led Government.

Ms Dean says if these changes are forced upon the sector, the entire country will take a massive hit.

“National strongly opposes these extreme measures. This is simply too far too fast and has the very real possibly of breaking the backbone of our nation."

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