Intensive winter grazing
Find out about intensive winter grazing and planned regulations.
UPDATE – 27 AUGUST 2021
Consultation on intensive winter grazing regulations
Changes to proposed intensive winter grazing regulations are being consulted on that will make them practical for farmers to comply with.
Intensive winter grazing is a practice where livestock, such as cattle and sheep, are grazed on paddocks planted with fodder crops. When done poorly, it can have serious negative effects on water quality and animal welfare.
We have received feedback that aspects of the intensive winter grazing regulations may require modification to support effective implementation and achieve improved environmental outcomes. This particularly relates to conditions that are weather-dependent or difficult to practically comply with.
As a result of that feedback, the intensive winter grazing regulations were deferred until 2022 to allow time to consider changes to address the implementation issues.
We are proposing changes to the conditions so the regulations can operate as intended.
Consultation runs for six weeks until 7 October 2021. The consultation document and online submission form are available on the Ministry for the Environment's (MfE's) website.
Reasons and benefits of delaying the regulations
The decision to delay applying these regulations took into account feedback from the farming and regional sectors about the challenges associated with meeting and implementing the new requirements for intensive winter grazing in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater.
The delay also allows time for the certified freshwater farm plan regime to begin to be rolled out. Consultation on the regulations for certified Freshwater Farm Plans opened on 26 July and closes on 26 September 2021.
Intensive winter grazing module developed for 2021
A module is available to help achieve immediate improvements to intensive winter grazing practices in 2021.
It highlights practical solutions farmers can take to mitigate the effects of grazing livestock on fodder crops during the winter months.
The module will be used to inform intensive winter grazing components of existing and new farm plans. It will also enable the components to be tested and incorporated into wider certified Freshwater Farm Plans when they are rolled out from early 2022.
2021/2022 Intensive Winter Grazing Module [PDF, 1.1 MB]
2021/2022 Intensive Winter Grazing Module – Template [PDF, 1.6 MB]
Improvements in winter grazing expected during 2021–2022
Until the regulations come into force, practice is expected to noticeably improve, including a complete stop to the worst practices that impact on the environment.
Effective monitoring by councils, and action where necessary, is also expected during this period. This will ensure that improvements are being made and provide evidence that fewer contaminants are ending up in waterways.
What the delay means for farms using intensive winter grazing
The delayed regulations apply only to farms already undertaking intensive winter grazing between July 2014 and June 2019. No new or expanded intensive winter grazing activity can occur without a consent. This rule, one of the ‘intensification rules’ in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater, is unchanged.
During the delay period:
- farmers already using intensive winter grazing can continue without needing a resource consent. However, improvements in practice are expected and councils will be monitoring this. Industry guides are available.
- a farm plan module for intensive winter grazing (incorporating good management principles) will be made available to provide clear guidance on acceptable practice
- any existing regional plan provisions will still apply and councils will retain the ability to control this activity.
Guides to winter grazing
After the delay period
When the intensive winter grazing regulations are reinstated, the requirement to apply for a resource consent (if permitted activity conditions cannot be met) will apply again.
As freshwater farm plan regime rolls out from early 2022, farmers will begin to have the option to undertake winter grazing through a certified plan, as an alternative to needing a resource consent (if they still cannot meet the permitted activity conditions).
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about intensive winter grazing, email email@example.com