22 Dec 2011

Input to be allowed on new dairy conversion rules

6:44 am on 22 December 2011

Southland farmers opposed to tough new dairy conversion rules have won a chance to negotiate the details.

Southland Regional Council has announced it will put its dairy conversion policy on the shelf until April, following a silent protest by 150 farmers and industry representatives last week.

The policy requires all new dairy conversions in the region to have resource consents. It was due to take effect this month.

The council says it's still committed to introducing the policy in April, but will now consult farmers on the details.

Chief executive Ciaran Keogh says the new rules are in response to an increase in conversions and declining water quality in the region.

Southland Federated Farmers says the resource consent process is lengthy and costly and will devalue farm land, which he says will be detrimental to the Southland economy.

local government spokesperson Doug Fraser says farmers now have the chance to explain that to the council.

"Obviously farmers have got a responsibility with regard to maintenance of good environmental standards, but we need to see what basis they're making these rules on and then try to find a way that's both environmentally and economically sound", Mr Fraser says.

He says so far farmers have only had superficial information and they want to delve deeper and have a discussion with the council.