Freshwater farm plans for farmers in Southland and Waikato

Jun 15, 2023

The new regulation passed through Parliament last week will require Deer farmers to get a freshwater farm plan (FWFP)within 18 months from when their region is ‘turned on’. The new Resource Management (Freshwater Farm Plans) Regulations 2023 will come into force on 1 August 2023, with farmers in Southland and Waikato the first to experience roll-out from that date.

Sara Elmes

 Farmers will have 18 months to get a FWFP when their catchment is ‘turned on’, which will happen progressively as the regional Councils roll out their plans.  With most farmers already having farm environment plans in place, this will put most people 80-90 per cent on track to an FWFP. Deer Industry New Zealand, and the Deer Farmers Association have encouraged all farmers to work with a farm environment plan, but we have concerns about the requirements of the new Regulation. 

The FWFP will need to be certified and audited, which will incur an audit fee additional to any consultancy costs for preparing the actual plan.

A range of maps will still be required to show different aspects of farm management, but it is pleasing to see that one map can show multiple things.

Certification lasts five years as long as no major changes happen. However, an audit will need to be organised by the farmer/operator within 12 months after certification.

The time frame for the next audit is legislated and is dependent on the audit grade earned. Grades will range from A to D, rated on timely adherence to the action plan.

DINZ will be speaking with other sector bodies, Regional Councils and to the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) about the cost imposition of the Certification and Audit requirements and the timing requirements for audits. DINZ's view is that timing requirements are too short. For example, a ‘D’ grade will mean another audit is required within six months, which does not allow much time to implement changes on a farm level.

While ‘D’ indicates deficiencies in the farm’s freshwater management system that will need fixing, the prospect of fines being imposed for failing to implement changes is worrying.

Sara Elmes

More information from MfE on Freshwater Farm Plans >>

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