Farmers are worried about proposed water policy changes, but their concerns are largely based on a fear of the unknown, says Northland dairy farmer Andrew Booth.
In recent weeks social media has been rife with comments from on-edge farmers, and small town halls packed to the rafters as officials have been quizzed over the proposals.
Environment Minister David Parker released them last month, saying the health and wellbeing of water would be put first when making decisions, “providing for essential human needs, such as drinking water, will be second, and all other uses will follow”.
Some like Orari, Canterbury dairy farmer Andy Palmer want to make a “submission of substance” on the issue but feel they have little time to do so. The deadline is October 31.
Former Synlait chief executive and chairman of the Freshwater Leaders Group John Penno said there would be change, and for some farmers pain, but the Government had given them certainty where before they were unsure about what was expected of them.
Booth said he attended a meeting of about 220 in Whangarei. The consensus was that something needed to be done to clean up waterways.
“The people who were making the comments didn’t know everything that was going on; there was a bit of scare mongering. The fear was potentially unwarranted.”
Booth and his wife Vicky sharemilk 420 cows on 174 hectares alongside the Mangakahia River, which ultimately feeds Kaipara Harbour. Over the last 10 years he has planted up and fenced off the section of river running through his property.