Action Plan for Healthy Waterways

Government’s proposal to clean up waterways

Water quality is no new issue in Aotearoa New Zealand, but it is a growing one. On 31 October 2019, the government closed submissions on the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways. The Plan has since been referred to an independent advisory panel that will consider the public’s submissions and report back to the government. The panel consists of five members with expertise in a range of areas including dairy farming, environmental law, hydrology and water management.

Introducing the Plan, Environment Minister, David Parker spoke of the loss of New Zealand’s once-swimmable rivers and lakes. Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and for Rural Communities, commended the effort made by farmers to date:

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Over the fence

Cattle rustling now a crime

As noted in the Autumn edition of Rural eSpeaking, the newly minted Crimes Amendment Act has introduced two new offences aimed at addressing cattle rustling. The legislation came into force on 12 March 2019.

rustling

Federated Farmers has estimated that livestock thefts cost the farming community more than $120 million every year. Cattle rustling also causes biosecurity concerns associated with the movement of stock as well as the safety of farmers as firearms and other weapons are often involved with this kind of offending.

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Resource management system review

Complex task ahead

In contrast to the review of the NAIT system that we discussed in our previous post, it will be challenging for the government to get a consensus on the recently announced review of the resource management system. The four leading political parties have differing views on how to manage resource management issues. In particular, the Coalition government has three partners – all of which have somewhat contrasting policy positions.

The review will be undertaken by a resource management review panel made up of people with skills in relevant areas. The panel is chaired by Tony Randerson QC, a retired Judge of the Court of Appeal. Additional members will be appointed in the coming months.

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NAIT review

Significant changes post-M.bovis

The NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) system was first introduced in 2012 and came into effect progressively until it was fully implemented on 29 February 2016.

NAIT

Any completely new system is likely to need a review after being in operation for a period of time. Within 18 months of NAIT’s final implementation date, the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in this country gave the regime a real test and, not surprisingly, the system was found wanting in some respects.

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Over the fence

Minimum wage review 2019

The government reviews the minimum wage each year.

On 1 April 2019 the adult minimum wage will increase from $16.50/hour to $17.70/hour. The starting out and training minimum wage will increase from $13.20/hour to $14.16/hour. The government has also set indicative rates of $18.90/hour from 1 April 2020 and to $20.00/hour from 1 April 2021. These rates will be subject to each year’s annual review.

minimum

We recommend you review all wage and salary structures to ensure your employees are paid at least the minimum wage at all times for hours worked.

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Tenure review of Crown pastoral land to end

What is the government proposing?

The Minister for Land Information, the Hon Eugenie Sage, announced on 17 February this year that the ‘tenure review’ of Crown pastoral land under the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998 (CPLA) would end. She introduced a discussion document entitled ‘Enduring Stewardship of Crown Pastoral Land’ that sets out a number of proposals in relation to Crown pastoral land. Public feedback is sought on:

  • The implications of ending the tenure review
  • The outcomes the Crown is seeking for Crown pastoral land, and
  • What changes should be made to the Crown Pastoral Land regulatory system to achieve those outcomes.

Submissions should be made by 5pm on Friday 12 April 2019.

Background

There are 171 remaining Crown pastoral lease properties covering approximately 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land.

Crown Pastoral Land

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Over the fence

Mycoplasma bovis and land transactions

Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) continues to be a real concern for the farming industry in New Zealand.

mycoplasma

If you are thinking of entering into legal arrangements for the sale and purchase of rural land, it’s important that you consider including specific provisions that address M. bovis. There will be the possibility that livestock on the subject property may test positive for M. bovis between the date of the signed agreement for sale and purchase and the date for settlement.

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Wandering stock

The right to impound and to claim for damages

One of the perennial problems that farmers face is that of stock wandering or stock getting out and interfering with, or causing damage to, neighbouring properties. Generally speaking, the issue of having a small number of stock grazing on your land for a short time until they are put back in the neighbour’s property may not be too great a concern.

There are, however. some fairly serious issues that can arise, particularly where stock from a pastoral farm, for example, gets into cropping or orchard land where the damage could not only relate to the crops that are eaten or destroyed but also could cause issues with export or organic certification. As a result, losses caused by wandering or trespassing stock could be significantly in excess of the value of the lost crops.

What can be done about this?

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Private land with public access

How is access granted?

Our ability to access the ‘great outdoors’ in New Zealand is seen as something of a citizen’s right. At times, however, It does conflict with the rights of private landowners when, in order to access the great outdoors, there is a need to cross their private land first.

The question of public access over private land has recently been becoming more of an issue. In particular, groups who are advocating for that access see the acquisition of private land by overseas people as an opportunity to gain more formal access over private land. Historically, New Zealanders have enjoyed a reasonably significant amount of access over private land – often based around relatively informal arrangements.

Public access over private land is a complex topic. This article gives you some background to the law relating to the rights of private landowners.

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Biosecurity in New Zealand

Who is liable for an outbreak of plant disease?

Biosecurity issues never seem to be far from the news these days. The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for biosecurity in New Zealand and gets its powers in relation to biosecurity under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The purpose of the biosecurity system that the Act puts in place is to prevent or manage risks from harmful organisms such as pests and diseases. It does this by attempting to stop pests and diseases before they arrive in the country and, if they do, by trying to either eradicate or manage them.

Psa, varroa mite, myrtle rust and Mycoplasma bovis have all recently caused major issues. Now MPI is seeking the destruction of tens of thousands of plant cuttings and trees that were imported from an American nursery in the state of Washington after an audit uncovered irregularities in the nursery’s processes.

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