Big in­crease in farm ef­flu­ent plans

South Waikato News - - OPINION / KI OKU NEI WHAKAARO - By CHRIS LEWIS

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.

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