Depending on when you found time to read this issue, there may be time to get a submission in the Freshwater proposals before they close on October 31.

From what I’ve been hearing, many farmers around the country intend to submit, angry and dismayed at what is a flawed process.

Why were farming groups not allowed input during the final stages of the package? If they had been then it would have saved a lot of work for everyone and been a better document. Another Kiwibuild failure in the making?

Government and its bureaucrats don’t seem to understand the difference between intensification and efficiency. If farmers improve their output of milk or meat per hectare it is called intensification, not efficiency. If a farmer produces more from less they will be punished.

A major concern is the grandparenting of nutrients which would kill further development. Farms with high losses will be able to continue while those with very low losses won’t be able to develop until a regional plan is in place.

It will mean more land will be uneconomic to farm and be easy pickings for forestry which thanks to generous carbon credits and favourable treatment to overseas investors is spreading unchecked.

Not including hydro is unfair to catchments with higher nutrient concentrations due to dams and lower water flows. Requiring more consents leave farmers vulnerable to blackmail from anti-farming opponents like Fish and Game, and DoC.

The freshwater proposals lack costings. Why weren’t they carried out? The only meaningful work so far is modelling by Local Government NZ based on the Waikato-Waipa and Mataura catchments. It predicted sheep and beef farming would fall in the Waikato by 38%, dairy by 13% and forestry increase 160%.

The answer is innovation not stringent rules. Flexibility is needed to allow farmers to find the right solution for their farms.

I’m reliably informed that ministers O’Connor and Parker were warned farmers won’t cope with all the Freshwater proposals but ignored them as they are determined to push it before the election. The two ministers were apparently shocked by the farmer backlash.

You may notice we have been tinkering with the columns and sections in this issue. Missing is Denis Hocking’s column who has decided to call it a day. Denis was one of the original columnists and in all the time he wrote for us he never missed a deadline. I am grateful to Denis for his outstanding loyalty to the magazine and wish him well.