Freshwater farm plans next on the Coalition's to-do list

Mar 14, 2024

Having ticked off actions on its 100-day plan, the National-led coalition government’s attention will soon turn to rules surrounding freshwater farm plans (FWFPs). Deer Industry NZ (DINZ) is pushing for measures allowing deer farmers to farm in ways that will protect the environment, be sensitive to local conditions and reduce the burden of unnecessary regulation and cost.

Mandy Bell says ministers and officials are supportive of the primary sector.

DINZ executive chair Mandy Bell, former chief executive Innes Moffat and DINZ policy and research manager Emil Murphy have met with agriculture minister Todd McClay and new associate agriculture minister Andrew Hoggard in the last couple of weeks to update them on deer industry issues.

Bell reports “good support from ministers and their officials. We’ve been introducing the deer industry to those that are new and updating them on ongoing work, including ensuring that they are aware of our market access discussions.”

While there will be some adjustments following talks with its coalition partners, Act and NZ First, the thrust of National’s pre-election ‘Getting back to farming’ policy package of 19 changes still remains, McClay has assured Bell. The proposed changes were aimed at “delivering smarter rules for the future, supercharging the rural economy and to get Wellington out of farming”.

Out of the Coalition’s ambitious 49 point 100-day plan – which had an immediate focus on rebuilding the economy and easing the cost of living – work has already stopped on the Lake Onslow pumped hydro scheme, government has met with councils and communities to establish regional requirements for Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent flooding events and made efforts to speed up the recovery efforts. “Three Waters” has been formally repealed and will be replaced, in time, by ‘Local Water Done Well’.

Most recently Hoggard, a former Federated Farmers president, started work on ceasing implementation of new Significant Natural Areas and is seeking advice on operation of the areas.

Next off the blocks: FWFPs

Next off the blocks will be the Coalition’s talks on rules around FWFPs.

Fenced wetland. Photo: Jamie Ward.

“Ministers are getting together within the next few weeks to discuss what to do and how it fits within the wider Resource Management Act context,” Murphy understands.

Minister McClay has indicated government will develop an approach that is fit-for-purpose and enduring.

DINZ is working with the government, alongside Beef + Lamb NZ and others, Murphy says, to “push for risk-based measures allowing producers to farm and protect the environment in a way that is sensitive to local conditions and will reduce the burden of unnecessary regulation and cost”

The new Cabinet has agreed to replace the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management (NPS-FM), however unravelling these requirements is going to take time, environmental stewardship manager Luka Jansen explains.

Meanwhile, improving water quality remains a priority for regional councils across New Zealand, “whether it’s an FWFP, Integrated Farm Plan or a Farm Environment Plan (FEP),  deer farmers should continue the good work they are doing on-farm to protect the environment” she notes.

“We know success as a deer farmer commands responsible management and stewardship of the land,” says Jansen.

“DINZ is proud of deer farmers’ successful performance to date, managing environmental risks and incorporating mitigations into their deer farm operations.”

DINZ will continue to update on progress in DINZ eNews and through the environmental stewardship page on the DINZ website.

Deer farmers needing help/advice with development of environment-related farm plans can contact Luka Jansen by email, or phone 027-438 8874.


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