Friday, April 19, 2024

Call for input on freshwater farm plans

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The Government is inviting farmers and growers to contribute to the development of high-quality and workable freshwater farm plans.
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Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Environment Minister David Parker have released consultation documents for the plans and stock exclusion low-slope maps.

They seek comment on what they say is a new, more accurate, mapping approach for stock exclusion that better reflects what farmers see on the ground.

Thanking industry organisations for their input so far, which he says has improved the Government’s original proposals, O’Connor added that many farmers and growers are already committed to practices to improve water quality and it’s vital they contribute to the consultation.

“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 into, which will help boost value growth,” O’Connor said.

He encourages on the content of freshwater farm plans, their potential outcomes 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,” he said.

“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.”

Parker says high-quality freshwater farm plans will provide a practical way for farmers to meet 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,” Parker said.

“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.”

He says the Government will soon release a review of whether the Overseer nutrient management tool will be useful long-term.

An earlier report by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton 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,” Parker said.

Public consultation with farmers, agricultural sector groups, iwi and Māori, councils and environmental groups will run from July 26-September 12.

The discussion document is available now on the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries websites. 

Online submission forms will be available when the consultation opens on the week of July 26 on the MfE’s website in the have your say section.

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