The plan change will set policies and rules for water quality, and look at ways to better manage nutrients and sediment losses. This will affect all dairy farmers in the Waikato and Waipa catchments and is likely to come into force next year.
Chair of the Waikato Farmer Engagement Group, Angela Fullerton, says attending the meetings can ensure there are “no surprises” for farmers and help them to be on the front foot of any changes that might come as a result.
“It’s imperative that farmers get up to speed with environmental issues that will affect the way they farm.
“The seven meetings are an important opportunity for farmers to engage in the process and ensure their voices are heard loud and clear.
“We will present a lot of new information and it’s a great chance for farmers to express any concerns they might have and get their questions answered. There’s no point in complaining later once the rules are in and you don’t like them – the time to have their say is now when the plan is being developed,” she says.
The meetings will be led by representatives of the Waikato Farmer Engagement Group, set up by industry body DairyNZ to help farmers get involved with the Healthy Rivers process. The aim of the group is to ensure farmers’ views are heard and that the impacts of any proposals on farmers are well-understood.
Farmer leaders and DairyNZ staff will provide the latest information on the state of freshwater in the catchments and how water quality will be measured and monitored going forward.
Farmers will also hear details of how the council is proposing to divide catchments up into five Fresh Water Management Units. The five Fresh Water Management Units are: Upper Waikato (Huka Falls to above Karapiro), Middle Waikato (Karapiro to Ngaruawahia), Lower Waikato (Ngaruawahia to Port Waikato), Waipa River Catchment and a category known as Shallow Lakes.
“The Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management requires every regional council to set water quality and quantity limits for every water body in their region by December 2025. The Healthy Rivers Plan Change will place controls on Nitrogen, Phosphorus, sediment and bacteria and these controls will affect how farmers can farm,” says Angela.
“Once Waikato farmers have made their views clear to us as a farmer engagement group we will be passing those views on to the Collaborative Stakeholder Group through our industry reps. One of the reps George Moss will also be attending the farmers’ meetings. The group represents a range of industry interests that will make recommendations to the regional council which is expected to release its draft options for water policy in the region about October.”
The Healthy Rivers Plan for Change will be formally notified for public submissions in April 2016.
Farmers Meetings: Waikato Healthy Rivers Plan for Change.
April 21: Tuakau, Tuakau Town Hall
April 22: Gordonton. Gordonton Hall
May 5: Reporoa, Broadlands Hall
May 6: Te Awamutu, Te Awamutu Club
May 7: Tokoroa, South Waikato Sports and Events Centre
May 13: Cambridge, Don Rowlands Centre
May 19: Otorohanga, Otorohanga Club
Meetings run from 11am to 2pm and lunch will be provided.
For more information visit www.dairynz.co.nz/healthyrivers
DairyNZ marketing manager - sustainability
tel 027 706 4784