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Farmers warned over Lake Taupo rules

Environment Waikato is warning of consequences if the small number of farmers who continue to graze too many stock during the 2008 winter, and do not get benchmarked, remain in breach of new rules designed to stop too much nitrogen leaching into Lake Taupo.

Under the regional council’s Taupo Variation, now in effect, livestock farmers cannot run stock numbers beyond levels that cause nitrogen leaching above the benchmarked nitrogen discharge allowance. The nitrogen discharge allowance is benchmarked on farming practices over the period between 2001 and 2005.

However, there have been reports that a number of farms in the Taupo catchment were running higher than permitted numbers of grazing dairy cows last winter. The Taupo Variation rules spell out the permitted grazing numbers allowed for different types of stock above which a resource consent is required. There are also a number of farms who are not getting benchmarked.

Jan Hania, manager of the Taupo Variation Implementation Project, said that information received from last year would be used to target properties that are believed to be grazing dairy cows in winter to ensure they understand the need to comply with rules and the consequences of non-compliance.

“In the last 18 months we’ve worked widely with farmers and rural professionals to explain the new rules. Many farmers are currently getting their properties benchmarked to comply with the new rules, but some are not yet engaging in the process and we are seeing the signs of overstocking,” said Mr Hania.

“We cannot allow people to flout the rules, either mistakenly or deliberately – that would be unfair to the larger number of farmers doing the right thing and would fail to protect the lake. While we’re prepared to work with people to sort things out by providing advice and support, ultimately we may have to take action if farmers choose not to comply.

“If farmers do not move soon to get benchmarked and they continue to carry excessive stock numbers, we will look to initiate enforcement action.”

For further information on the Lake Taupo Protection rules, contact staff at the Taupo Office on 07 378 6539 or visit www.ew.govt.nz.

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