Environment Minister David Parker announced plans to limit nutrient loss from farmlands to waterways during yesterday's edition of Q + A.
Speaking with host Corin Dann, Parker discussed halting further environmental degradation and making notable improvements to the overall state of the environment over the next five years, and then, in the succeeding generation, getting things "back to where they need to be".
To achieve this Parker says nutrient limits will be implemented, which in some cases will force farmers to destock. This, he says, is in reaction to the fact that "In some areas, the number of cows per hectare is higher than the environment can sustain".
Despite these stock-limiting measures being likely to severely impact the wallets of some farmers, Parker says there will be no compensation:
"You don't compensate people for stopping pollution. Just because you could pollute last year doesn't mean you should now be paid to stop doing it."
Parker says long-term solutions are the key; for example, moving towards more cropping and horticulture in South Canterbury, where these land uses are of higher value.
Rather than subsidising this land use change, Parker says the government will enable it through the new technologies that they are willing to subsidise going forward, such as sensors, positioning systems and robotics.
Parker says economics will drive change where there is a high value land use, and where economics wont, regulation will.
This regulation will come in the form of new national policy statement which will forbid increases in land use intensity, and bring forward a methodology for the allocation of nutrients in nutrient-enriched catchments.
These announcements come shortly after discussions over putting farmers into the emissions trading scheme, and, along with cuts to funding for irrigation schemes, and plans to stop oil and gas exploration, show the new Labour government's willingness to severely crack down on industries doing harm to the environment.