Big increase in farm effluent plans
As Henry Ford once said: "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success".
This is evident through Waikato Regional Council’s comparative data in effluent compliance taken before the collaborative process and now. We have seen a conscious effort from the council to work alongside farmers rather than be a distant enforcer, with farm inspections increased by more than 200 farms since 2012.
Every successful business or individual knew that their achievement depended on a community working together, with a shared vision or goal.
Evidence that the collaborative process is working was seen in the number of farmers supplying effluent improvement plans to the council. The council said they had seen an increase in engagement regarding effluent plans being supplied and believed the positive response had come from providing more reasonable time frames and better education on what was required of farmers.
Rather than being chased with a big stick, which is how it felt in the beginning, the council was meeting farmers in the middle and expanding their one-on-one engagement so there was a constructive platform to build off.
Their approach now focused on high-risk soil areas rather than general deterrence. This is a better use of everyone’s time and money, as these farms are likely to struggle with compliance compared to heavy-soil type properties. I commend the council for this approach which is generating some great results.
Monitoring our farm effluent and targeting high-risk areas on farm was a far better use of our time than getting caught up in the politicking of water quality.
When you have a farm visit or are requested to provide an effluent plan, don’t look at it as a death sentence.
The council has proven that they are willing to work with you and be flexible, so it is in your best interest to do your upmost to collaborate, provide the information and/or development required.
Chris Lewis is Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.