Updated: June 2021
Fresh water requirements
A number of new rules have recently come into effect or will do in the next few months. Below is a summary of these key rules. For more detail see the National Freshwater Regulations page. If you need a resource consent contact your regional council.
Fresh Water Farm Plan and Low slope map consultation
On July 14, 2021, the Government announced consultation around Fresh Water Farm Plan (FWFP) requirements and processes as well as in relation to low slope maps which form part of Stock Exclusion Regulations. A consultation document has been released and consultation is open from 26 July until 12 September. Have your say here.
- Freshwater farm plans discussion document
- Stock exclusion regulations: Proposed changes to the low slope map: Discussion document
- Further information on the consultation is available on the Ministry for the Environment website.
Questions and answers
What are the most significant proposals in the Fresh Water Farm Plan discussion document that is open for consultation 26 July to 12 September?
- The framework proposed by the Ministry will go into the Resource Management Act and will require all farmers to develop a Freshwater Farm Plan as signalled in the Action Plan for Healthy Waterways. A Freshwater Farm Plan is a new component of a Farm Environment Plan.
- The discussion document proposes a phased roll out for Freshwater Farm Plans between 2022 and 2025. So, some farms will need to have their plans prepared earlier than other farmers. There are two options under consultation for the rollout – either 1) catchment by catchment or 2) prioritisation by farm characteristics and risks. The discussion document presents options but is unclear on farm risk assessment and how and who chooses the mitigations. The Ministry currently prefers option 1.
- There are no decisions made yet about which farmers will be required to have developed a Freshwater Farm Plan in 2022. The discussion document proposes a framework for how a NZ-wide farm plan regulation would work but does not say which farmers will be impacted and when.
What are DairyNZ’s views?
Dairy NZ agree that NZ-wide regulation for freshwater farm plans:
- Do not need a resource consent;
- Should be able to be completed largely by a farmer if they choose
- Be signed off by a certifier; and then
- Have actions audited.
Under Dairy Tomorrow, dairy companies will have a key role in supporting farmers to develop and update their Freshwater Farm Plan.
With all farms needing to have a Farm Environment Plan, we encourage farmers to start working with your dairy company to develop a plan soon if you don’t have one.
Is there a difference between this plan and the plan I have with Council and/or the dairy company?
They are similar with some new requirements that may include biodiversity requirements, including any covenants on your property, management of critical source areas, identifying erosion control assets, drinking water protection zones, and requirements for the plan to be audited.
DairyNZ plans to include in our submission that we want the work many farmers have undertaken to develop plans to be recognised.
What are the changes to stock exclusion slope maps?
The 2020 regulations for stock exclusion are not changing (for dairy farmers, all dairy cattle must be excluded from streams and lakes by mid-2022 regardless of slope). The Ministry is consulting on changes to the mapping tool to more accurately capture low to moderate slope land. The slope changes are more likely to affect beef, sheep and deer farmers who farm on rolling land, but may affect some dairy farmers.
How can I find out more and have my say?
The full Ministry for the Environment discussion document on Fresh Water Farm Plan requirements and processes is here and the consultation process opens on 26 July.
Intensive winter grazing controls
- Limits on the expansion of winter grazing apply from May 2021.
- This means from 01 May 2021 any increase in intensive winter cropping area above the maximum area in the 2014-2019 period requires a resource consent.
- Regulations setting minimum standards in relation to existing intensive winter grazing have been deferred until 01 May 2022.
- Despite the deferral, farmers need to implement good management practice from June 2021, for more detail click here.
Nitrogen fertiliser limits commence
- A 190kg N/ha per year cap commences from 01 July 2021 and dairy farms will be required to report on synthetic nitrogen use by 31 July each year (first report due 31 July 2022).
- Dairy farmers need to have a system in place now to record their nitrogen use.
- If you apply more than 190kg N/ha per year you will need to reduce your N fertiliser use or apply for a resource consent. See Strategies to reduce N use.
Stock holding restrictions apply
- From 01 July 2021 stand-off pads and other stockholding areas need to meet minimum requirements, including minimum permeability to prevent contaminant loss, containment of effluent and minimum distances from water bodies.
- If all minimum standards are not met, resource consent will be required.
- Most farmers will now be receiving an emissions report from their milk supply company that meets the minimum requirements under our agriculture sector partnership He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN). Visit the He Waka Eke Noa website for more information.
- Farm Plans will also be updated to include how to measure and manage greenhouse gas emissions based on guidance developed as part of HWEN. Contact your dairy company or rural professional for details. View the guidance here.
- The HWEN partnership is now tasked with creating a method for pricing emissions from livestock and fertiliser from 2025. This is an alternative to being in the Emissions Trading Scheme and should give farmers more control over how revenue is collected and where it is used. Find the partnership’s timeline here.
- You will have a chance to have a say on the pricing method in November 2021. DairyNZ will keep you informed.
- The Government will soon respond to the Climate Change Commission’s advice. You will have a chance to feedback on the final recommendations in July/August. See the Climate Change Commission page.
- The government undertook consultation on a proposed National Policy Statement for Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) in 2019/2020.
- It is anticipated that the NPSIB, if approved, will take effect mid-2021. Updates on the final content of the NPSIB will be provided once available.
- We are seeking clarity from Ministry for Environment and regional councils on how the N cap rules will be applied, specifically on which records to keep and the reporting to regional councils.
- DairyNZ is providing support to farmers to develop a wintering plan and a ‘plan B’ for caring for stock in adverse weather
- DairyNZ is working with Ministry for Environment and regional councils to operationalise a farm environment plan module for farmers to be compliant with their intensive winter grazing in May 2022
- As a partner in He Waka Eke Noa we are working with other sector organisations, federation of Māori authorities and government to ensure pricing options are fair and practical using scientific and economic expertise.
- Step Change: Dollars and Sense of Going Green events are being held in June and July to help you understand your options and the benefits your bank may offer for making progress on environmental goals. Find an event near you here.