[14 May/Farmers Weekly]

Environment Minister, David Parker, appeared to want regional councils to implement plans to improve water quality sooner than is being achieved, according to Local Government New Zealand regional sector chairman, Dough Leeder. Mr Parker indicated he would shorten deadlines. Ecologist and Consultant, Alison Dewes, said given the complexity of the issues on nutrient loss and water allocation, there was little prospect lowering nutrient losses by cutting cow numbers in some catchments would gain the necessary political capital in a short time. Ms Dewes said it could lead to the point where the government could tax nitrogen fertiliser. Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman, Chris Lewis, added that with such plans already in place many farmers had already stepped their stock numbers down from historically higher levels. He noted that there was nothing new in what the minister wanted to achieve for farmers in many regions.