On Friday 16 July 2021, NZ farmers and supporters turned out country wide to protest the government’s latest proposals for environmental / conservation changes (in accordance with the UN Agenda 2030 plans). Shelley Krieger has explained what exactly the protest was about ….

Once parts of land are classified as an SNA you lose your rights to that land… you have to fence it off at your own cost and still pay the rates on it but you can no longer use it … one Farmer near Inangahua is about to lose 80% of his 600 hectare farm …”

“In case anyone was confused as to why the Farmers were protesting on Friday I thought I would just put something here so people have an idea of why.

Firstly SNA’s (Significant Natural Areas), these are areas of people’s farm land or lifestyle blocks that the Government is getting the councils to survey. This is native blocks of land that have wild flora and wild animals that pass through it.

Once parts of land are classified as an SNA you lose your rights to that land, can not farm it or build on it. You have to fence it off at your own cost and still pay the rates on it but you can no longer use it. In some instances it is 80-90% of people’s land. One Farmer near Inangahua is about to lose 80% of his 600 hectare farm (1482 acres, of which he will lose the ability to farm or sell 1185 acres). So you could see how that could be upsetting.

Next is the clean water accord. We as Farmers are all for cleaning up the waterways and huge work has been done. The building of sediment traps to stop dirt eroding into rivers, fencing, riparian plantings (planting flaxes and trees along the waterways), effluent management, reducing nitrogen and fertiliser use, and trying to do more regenerative farming. I know that the perception from the media is that we are doing nothing and I’m sure there are a few die hard older farmers that are not prepared to change, but the younger ones coming in are fully aware of their obligations to the environment. And believe it or not, Farmers are the first ones to ring MPI if they see an animal welfare issue or the council if they see bad practices happening.

In the “Good Old Days” Dairy sheds were actually built alongside rivers so they could pump the cow poop into the rivers, because they didn’t know what the outcome would be, same as the meat works, they used to let all their waste go into the rivers too! Times have changed and we are making changes. The thing is, it’s not as easy to make some of the changes that everyone wants straight away. We ourselves have been using compost instead of fertiliser, are using natural grass stimulant instead of Urea and are spraying fish fertiliser onto the paddocks to stimulate growth to try to move away from synthetic fertilisers, and put our cow effluent on with pods that put it on lightly. It’s hit and miss. Some of the things work well and some don’t.

Grass and crops take the nutrients out the soil so we must replace it, you can not just deplete the soil of all its nutrients otherwise it won’t grow anything. I know of 3 other farmers that went Organic and all 3 sold up because they weren’t making any money. The costs involved in being Organic made the farms uneconomical. We also have another Farm close to us that has been trialing Regenerative Farming, he is a generational farmer with very little debt and he is having to sell the farm off 100 acres at a time because he’s not making enough money to pay the staff. So you can see it is a balancing act.

When we borrow to buy the farm and the animals the bank only lends to us under the proviso that we do a certain amount of production to be able to cover the mortgage repayments. If we fall behind in production then the bank starts to put pressure on for payment which is an added pressure on top of the Public pressure, the Media Pressure and the Environmental Pressure.

To top that off the Government has also said that we have to have our winter crops in the ground by the 1st of October or we will be fined. In the South Island it is impossible to get the crops in by then, it’s still winter and it is either raining or snowing and the ground is too wet to get a tractor into the paddocks to get the seed in the ground.

There is also new legislation coming in that says we have to pay to get resource consent every year to plant our crop paddocks if they are on more than a 10 degree slope, and that pugging of the paddocks must only be to a certain depth or we will be fined. We have to produce a farm map to council with a detailed plan of which paddocks will be cropped, and how each one will be fed. No farming costs can be passed on to the consumer!

Every time you go to the supermarket and are outraged at the prices, so are we! Dairy Farmers only get about 12 cents out of that block of butter. Next time when you drive past a farm instead of thinking “those lucky buggers”, think instead of how big their mortgage is.

If a Tradie has to buy something for the job at your house and the price has gone up on that item, then he/she can add that extra cost on to the job. Farmers can not. We get given the price the Global Dairy Auction or the Meat Works set for us. Any extra costs we have lumped on us have to get taken out of our living costs, and some of us now can not afford to employ as many people.

We are also extremely concerned about the Government introducing legislation that we have to slaughter up to 30% of the farmed animals that we have in NZ.

Full article on Rangitikei Environmental Health Watch