With more than 20 new regulations in the past six years, New Zealand's farming landscape is undergoing significant changes. The impact on farmers is profound, with rules affecting every aspect of their businesses.
Chair of Beef & Lamb NZ Kate Acland revealed to REX host Dominic George that Beef and Lamb New Zealand commissioned a study to provide a robust and independent overview of the new regulations' impact on farmers. The findings were astonishing, exposing substantial costs relative to farm profits before tax. The results have shown a clear need for a more targeted approach to regulations, instead of a broad-brush approach.
In one particular example, a large-scale whitetail country farm was hit by stock exclusion regulations. The capital investment needed to comply with these rules exceeded a staggering $1.25 million. In contrast, the average farm profit before tax for a farm of this type and region is $112,000. The numbers are daunting, but Acland believes there are alternative solutions.
"There are places where targeted fencing and targeted spend would give you a big chunk of the outcomes," she said.
"Let's focus on the outcomes we want and then make sure that the investment that we're making as farmers is really targeted on where we're going to get the best outcome."
The study also pointed out the economic impact of banning live exports. One farm saw an annual reduction in income of $4.2 million due to this ban. Acland believes this is another clear example of the layers of regulation that are having a massive impact on the bottom line of farms.
While the findings are alarming, Acland believes this report will serve as a useful tool for discussions with policymakers.
"The whole point of this report is just to show how many multiple layers of regulation there are and the impact that that's having.
"We're just going to use this as a tool as we talk to Government policymakers, just to actually point out what impact this is having on our businesses and maybe try and direct the bit away from this."
New Zealand's farming industry is facing a sea of change. This recent report has shone a light on the stark realities, highlighting the urgent need for a targeted approach to regulations that takes into account the economic viability of farming businesses.
As Acland put it, "no one knows our farms like we do." Now, it's time for policymakers to take note.
Listen to the full chat between Chair of Beef & Lamb NZ Kate Acland and Dominic George above.