Climate Change Commission: carbon farming
On 31 May, the Climate Change Commission provided Parliament with its final advice on the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme before the government sets the first of three emissions budgets later this year. In this advice there was significant consideration on land use and the impacts of afforestation.
The Commission recommended the Emissions Trading Scheme be amended to manage exotic afforestation and provide assistance for local government in mitigating the local impacts of afforestation.
If the government implements the Commission’s recommendation, carbon farming returns for planting exotic trees, such as Pinus, will decrease, while the carbon farming returns for planting native forest blocks will either remain constant or increase.
With a large proportion of carbon sinks across New Zealand planted in Pinus, this will have an impact on both existing forestry blocks and blocks that will be planted in the future. The Commission has instead shifted its focus to reduce gross carbon dioxide which is largely produced by burning fossil fuels.
We will watch how the Commission’s recommendations progress during the year, and will provide more information as it comes to hand.
Dairy worker border exception process
In order to address an acute shortage of experienced dairy sector workers, in June the Minister of Agriculture approved a Class Border Exception for 200 migrant dairy farm workers, along with their families, to enter New Zealand. There were 150 positions available for herd managers or assistant farm managers and 50 farm assistants. In addition, 50 general practice vets (and their families) were granted exemptions to enter New Zealand.
An assistant farm manager must earn over $92,000pa and have at least two to four years’ work experience; herd managers must earn above $79,500pa. Farm assistants must earn above the median wage which is classified as $27.00/hour and roles must be in regions that have acute shortages of dairy sector workers.
All workers must come into New Zealand before April 2022. Employers must make a commitment to pay the costs for Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) and pay their worker’s salary whilst they are in MIQ.
It is estimated that the workers will be on the farm approximately 17 weeks from the initial application.
What is a ‘state of emergency’?
In late May, the mayors in mid-Canterbury declared a local state of emergency due to the significant flooding affecting the region. Then, in mid-July, a local state of emergency was declared in the Westport area. Many people are curious about what this entails and to understand the powers given to the authorities in a local state of emergency. We explain…
The Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 defines a local state of emergency as a declaration by an authorised person, such as a mayor or the Minister of Civil Defence, that an emergency has or is likely to occur within an area. A local state of emergency lasts for a minimum period of seven days from the date and time of the declaration.
The local civil defence group (which includes emergency services, police and volunteers) is then deployed who may, for example, set up first aid posts, provide shelter to those affected and assist with the rescue of people in danger. In a nutshell, a local state of emergency allows the authorities to protect people and the community.
Most importantly, the leader of the civil defence group has the power to enforce the evacuation of an area, authorise entering a premise to save lives and enforce road closures; all of these were implemented when Ashburton’s stock banks were at risk of breaching the township and Westport was flooded.
National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Regulations 2020: impacts on winter grazing
The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater Regulations 2020 came into force on 3 September 2020. The standards are designed to protect existing inland and coastal wetlands, improve poor practice intensive winter grazing of forage crops, restrict further agricultural intensification and limit the discharge of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser to land and require reporting of fertiliser use. Continue reading
Tougher firearms legislation now in force
The Arms Legislation Act 2020 received Royal Assent on 24 June 2020 and came into force immediately. The legislation imposes tighter controls on the use and possession of firearms. A key change is the introduction of a firearms registry, which will track how many firearms are in legal circulation, who holds them, who is selling them and who is buying them. People holding a firearms licence will be required to update the registry as they buy or sell guns.
Further changes include:
Water was the hot topic in the 2017 election campaign. This year, with an election coming up shortly, there seems to have been little talk of water (or much policy at all, so far) with Covid still taking up most of the news space, closely followed by scandals of various sorts.
The National Environmental Standards for Freshwater 2020 (the Freshwater NES), however, are due to be published later this year. Some parts of it will take effect 28 days after it is published while other parts won’t come into effect until the winter of 2021. This year is more than half over, and with the first half of the year being severely disrupted by the Covid lockdown and because the election is looming, there can be no certainty that the new Freshwater NES will be published this year. There is no certainty as to what form it will take, given we may not know which parties will form the government – perhaps sometime in October.
Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of our economy
The Covid-19 virus that is sweeping the world has impacted upon us all. The repercussions will differ depending on where you live, what age you are and what you do, but it will be there nonetheless.
The economic impact of the virus remains uncertain but it will be significant. In New Zealand, the immediate effect was on the tourism, hospitality and retail sectors.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.