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Freshwater farm plan consultation begins

The Government is inviting farmers and growers to provide their practical ideas to help develop high-quality and workable freshwater farm plans, in line with its freshwater goals.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor and Environment Minister David Parker, last week released the consultation documents for freshwater farm plans and stock exclusion low slope maps.

These are part of the Government's Essential Freshwater package. Public consultation with farmers, agricultural sector groups, iwi and Maori, councils, and environmental groups will run from July 26 to September 12.

“I want to thank industry organisations for their input so far, which has improved on original proposals. There are many farmers and growers already committed to practices to improve water quality and it's vital they have their say and contribute to this consultation,” Mr O'Connor said.

“Taking a farm planning approach is a flexible alternative. It also provides farmers a visible way of showing their sustainability credentials to the markets we sell in to, which will help boost value growth.”

Mr Parker said improving freshwater quality was important to all Kiwis.

“High-quality freshwater farm plans will provide a practical way for farmers to meet the freshwater standards the Government introduced last year, while helping councils play their part.

“Everybody's feedback will be carefully considered, and we expect the outcome to be released later this year.

“Working together and getting good ideas from this consultation is important, and that's why I encourage people to have their say. We believe a significant improvement in freshwater quality is achievable in five years — and we can have healthy waterways within a generation,” David Parker said.

Mr O'Connor said feedback was being sought on the content of freshwater farm plans, what outcomes could be achieved, and how plans could be certified, audited and amended.

“We will also be asking about the balance between using the low slope map and freshwater farm plans for identifying areas for stock exclusion.

“The Government is listening to, and helping farmers and growers as shown already by our work with the sector on He Waka Eke Noa, integrated farm planning and ensuring farmers are using the best practices for intensive winter grazing. This approach and these initiatives are fundamental to our Fit For A Better World roadmap,” he said.

Mr Parker said the Government would soon release a review of whether the nutrient management tool, Overseer, will be a useful long-term tool. An earlier report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment called for a re-evaluation of Overseer.

“We're committed to ensuring we have the right settings and tools in place to lift freshwater quality and help people achieve that goal,” Mr Parker said.

The discussion document is now available on the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries websites. The online submission forms will be available when the consultation opens on the week of July 26 on the Ministry for the Environment's website in the have your say section.

Stock exclusion regulations — proposed changes

https://environment.govt.nz/publications/stock-exclusion-regulations-proposed-changes-to-the-low-slope-map

Freshwater farm plan regulations discussion document

https://environment.govt.nz/publications/freshwater-farm-plan-regulations-discussion-document

Freshwater farm plan regulations supporting document

https://environment.govt.nz/publications/freshwater-farm-plan-regulations-regulatory-impact-analysis