Changes made to winter grazing regs to make implementation more practical

  • Hon Damien O’Connor

Cabinet this week agreed to make some adjustments to regulations within the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater to make them clearer, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“It became apparent that some of the regulations within the Freshwater standards – including ones around winter grazing – need to be adjusted, so we’ve done that,” Damien O’Connor said.

“The regulations on pugging depths around fixed water troughs and gateways weren’t practical so we have made some adjustments to make them more realistic. Discrete areas around fixed water troughs and gateways have now been exempted. We’ve also amended the definition for pugging to provide more clarity.

“It comes down to the sensible application of necessary regulations. There will be other regulations that will need to be adjusted as we move forward. For example, Minister Parker and I are aware of issues with the maps. We’ve both met about it and officials from the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries are working on making the mapping data more accurate.

“The intent is very clear – to clean up our waterways. We’ve made real progress in the area of winter grazing. There are some challenges ahead of us but I’m confident we’ll get this right. Where the regulations are impractical or unclear we will continue to make adjustments.

“It is a change in practice for some farmers but we’ll make sure that it achieves the outcomes that the vast majority of farmers say they want – which is better water quality, better animal welfare standards and making sure that we can sell good quality product to the world."

About the amendments

These amendments will be gazetted today:

  • Change the definition of pugging to penetration of soil of more than 5cm.
  • Clarification that that the 20cm pugging depth limit does not apply around fixed structures.