Water, water and rules everywhere

The crops enjoyed some early summer rain, but the question of water is exercising many, Roger Barton writes from South Wairarapa.

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The crops enjoyed some early summer rain, but the question of water is exercising many, Roger Barton writes from South Wairarapa.

ANOTHER NEW YEAR USHERED IN quietly. Getting off farm to celebrate always means a lot of rushing around to the point that going away seems to add to the stress, not diminish it. Jobs that might remain undone if you were staying onsite just have to be cleared out of the way.

We had perfect settled weather at the bach and came back to drier conditions than I’d left four days earlier.

We had 17.5mm of rainfall on January 6. People who tell me I am lucky get a quick reminder that it is tied up in our capital values and we are getting what we paid for. Unfortunately, our rocks see that it doesn’t hang about in the soil structure too long.

The chicory and brassica crops have enjoyed it and lambs are growing well. Now for some orderly marketing and processing. The markets might be hot but getting space has become an issue.

Automation of the industry must surely get some priority funding so that the more menial tasks can be completed with minimal labour. Those things are more in the realm of the processors but ultimately the value to get to that phase must be extracted from our product. Given prices, plus projections about the labour pool, perhaps we had better go faster in this area?

First lambs out the gate did 18.5kg and some lesser models, mostly ewe lambs did 16.2kg. There are plenty of good ones to follow at 18kg plus. We just need systems to flow and work.

“Even the Misuse of Drugs Act doesn’t require, as far as I’m aware, for people to dob class A drug peddlers into authority.”

With an increase in lambing percentage plus hogget lambs on top we have 16% more lambs on board this year. We also have an increased number of beef calves on deck and have made use of the opportunity to sell one line of cows, with calves at foot, on a grass market.

One way to get rid of work is to sell it. Having made the threat to lessen the workload we have made a poor job of achieving the goal. It seemed time to make some moves after last winter went on forever. Ewes at weaning have been lighter than usual although this seems to be a common theme around this region.

Because I can’t help myself, I’ve been taking more than an average interest in the Three Waters legislation but more importantly the “Water services bill.” As we have done a bit of subdivision here, we still have infrastructure on lifestyle blocks where we can choose (i.e. our discretion) to allow water to be taken from our own home/livestock water system.

If we choose to do this in future, legally, we must register with Taumata Arowai, the water regulator, before we supply drinking water for human use. It seems sensible that in times of need we allow this to happen so that tanks can be topped up over a few nights when stock demand is minimal. No carbon cost of delivery and no cost, unless we choose to charge, to the recipient.

But then the problems for the supplier start. I must know that the recipient of my water has a functioning water treatment system active and fit for purpose to treat that water pre use. It’s a bit like the manager at New World supermarket knowing that your fridge operates at 4C or less for food safety reasons. But it gets more draconian.

If someone I know is a water supplier but fails to register with Taumata Arowai inside a given timeframe I have an obligation to dob them in to the authorities. Even the Misuse of Drugs Act doesn’t require, as far as I’m aware, for people to dob Class A drug peddlers into authority. I know which I think might be doing more harm to society.

One of Damien O’Connor’s stated aims at the beginning of his time as minister was to ensure all legislation was subject to “rural proofing”. I have written to the ag minister enquiring about this process and because I wasn’t too enamoured with the quality of his reply I have now gone to the extent of seeking an Official Information Act request to see the methodology for the rural proofing.

This normally is supplied in 20 working days. Having issued my request in early December O’Connor has advised he needs an extension until March 14 to handle it. Given this should have been a single concentrated body of work I can only feel that the minister is taking the p**s out of my request.

Lack of openness and transparency is a fertile breeding ground for discontent. I’m prone to keep on adding fertiliser and fuel with my demeanour on this one.