Updated 30 June:
DairyNZ is still waiting on the details and the official documents, but here is information on some of the decisions based on the summary documents, and what they will mean for you.
What is the Essential Freshwater Package?
The Package requires some changes to the way we manage New Zealand’s freshwaters.
The new policies have two main objectives:
- to stop further degradation of waterways and start making immediate improvements so that water quality is improving within five years
- to reverse past damage and bring waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.
What does this mean for dairy farmers?
Below is a timeline on when some of the different rules will be implemented.
Healthy waterways are important to all New Zealanders, including dairy farmers. We share the same aspirations to protect our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands. The table (download below) outlines the key elements of the Government’s Essential Freshwater package, where they landed, and how they may affect dairy.
DairyNZ is still waiting on the official documents. As soon as we receive them we will work through the details and determine what it will mean for farmers in a practical sense.
There are unanswered questions and we will continue to work on your behalf to ensure any new rules are clear and that you have the support, tools and information you need to respond to new regulations.
At a regional level some farmers will be impacted more than others. DairyNZ will work at a local level to help you through any changes that may be required.
Webinar to answer your questions
Essential Freshwater webinar DairyNZ hosted a webinar to answer some of your questions. View the webinar below.
What was the process for these changes?
Submissions on the Essential Freshwater Package closed last October. DairyNZ completed its comprehensive submission, which you can access here.
DairyNZ advocated strongly on your behalf for an evidence-based and pragmatic approach to freshwater regulation that is fair for farmers.
While we were pleased to see the Government had listened and made significant changes to some of the more controversial elements of their original proposal, there is sting in the tail for farmers.
You can read DairyNZ’s media release here.
Looking at where the policy has landed, it appears that the Government have taken a better approach in terms of scientific rigour and practicality for farmers on the ground.
- parked the dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) measure for now and replaced it with a nitrate toxicity level. This will be reviewed in 12 months. In practice this means the proposed standard of DIN of 1, which is mostly nitrate (99%), moves to 2.4.
- removed the impractical and expensive requirement for farmers to move existing fences to meet new stock exclusion guidelines. New fences will be required to be setback 3 metres from a waterway.
- set a cap on the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser of 190kg N/hectare/year to be reviewed by 2023.
- accepted DairyNZ’s proposal to achieve progress through mandatory and independently audited farm environment plans (FEPs).