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Community consultation

Otago Regional Council is developing a new Land and Water Plan that will set new rules on water and land use, affecting dairy farmers. The council is carrying out three rounds of consultation to develop the plan. DairyNZ will voice dairy farmers' concerns, but we also encourage farmers to make their own submissions to influence future water quality goals.

Otago regional council is developing a new Land and Water Plan for the region, to be notified in late 2023.

The plan will include new rules and limits on water and land use in Otago, and will affect all dairy farmers.

Community consultation

As part of the process, Otago regional council (ORC) must involve the community. ORC ran three rounds of consultations in 2022-23, where they presented environmental outcomes and discussed management options to achieve these.

You can read more about the development of the new regional land and water plan on the Otago Regional Council website.

Why should I get involved? Why can’t DairyNZ just cover it?

  • Farmers are members of the community and regional councils are required to consult with the community.
  • Farmer opinions hold greater value for the regional council than generalised sector views.
  • Regional councils are consulting on the values and visions for your local area. The outcomes will be specific to you and your freshwater management unit so you can use these meetings to tailor your feedback to the local challenges you face.
  • The regional council is asking about the values farmers have for freshwater. What does that mean?

    Like all New Zealanders, dairy farmers value freshwater sources like rivers, streams and lakes. Dairy farmers value their land and want to see it in better condition for the next generation. Values could be, for example, being able to swim in a river or use a lake for recreational purposes like water sports and fishing. But your values can also be connected to your farming business and the water you need for everyday work on the farm such as:

    • Dairy shed washdown
    • Milk cooling
    • Pasture Irrigation
    • Stock drinking water
    • Human consumption and use

What are some things I could tell the council?

1. Clarifying how having access to freshwater impacts your business can help regional councils make an informed decision.

For farming operations to be viable in the future, farms need reliable access to freshwater to carry out everyday work like those listed above. This might seem obvious to most, but it is important to raise these concerns as the regional council need to plan for the future of freshwater use. This might include how much water is allocated from the water body, and what it is used for.

Dairy farmers want to see improvements in freshwater quality and achieve the vision set by the communities. But changing farm systems takes time, and regional councils need to set reasonable timeframes that allow time to transition.

2. It would be useful for the regional council to know how long you would need to make changes to your farm system to meet the desired outcomes.

This could help regional councils set timeframes that are reasonable but still ambitious, and which deliver on the communities’ values.

3. Here are some things that you might want to think about and ask the regional council:

  • How much will I need to reduce contaminant losses?
  • How will the proposed changes affect me in the future?
  • If we need to change how we farm in the future under the new rules, are the changes achievable and is enough time being provided for farmers to introduce changes?

Can my contribution make a difference?

The values you communicate will inform how the regional council set target attribute states. Target attribute states are the water quality that the community desire for lakes, rivers, and streams in the future.

A future quality goal for water bodies must be set at or above national bottom lines and at or above the current state of water quality. Council and communities can choose to improve freshwater further. This will influence which limits and rules are needed in the plan and, consequentially, how big changes you will have to make on your farm to meet the set goals.

Last updated: Aug 2023

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