About freshwater farm plans
Freshwater farm plans will provide a practical way for farmers to meet freshwater outcomes.
Establishing a certified freshwater farm plan system is part of the Essential Freshwater package introduced in 2020.
What are freshwater farm plans?
Freshwater farm plans will help farmers identify practical actions on-farm to improve local waterways.
Actions will be specific to each farm. They are part of an integrated approach that will eventually bring a farm’s planning requirements into one place.
The requirements for certified freshwater farm plans will be set out in detailed regulations under Part 9A of the Resource Management Act.
Who will need a freshwater farm plan
Farmers will need a freshwater farm plan if they have:
- 20 hectares or more in arable or pastoral use
- 5 hectares or more in horticultural use
- 20 hectares or more of combined use.
Freshwater farm plan rules are expected to take effect in late 2022. The requirement for a freshwater farm plan will be phased in over time in different regions.
It will take time for the right resources, workforce, and systems to be ready (at councils, in the advisory sector, and on-farm) to support the new certified freshwater farm plan system.
Farmers already using existing farm plans to manage environmental risks should continue doing this, until the new requirements are rolled out in their area.
Goals of the Freshwater Farm Plans system
To be effective, the system will need to be workable for regional councils and farmers.
It’s expected plans will work alongside other (non-mandatory) processes for continuous improvement in on-farm environmental management.
Each plan will look different, depending on:
- farm type
- catchment area
- local rules and issues
- community priorities
- industry and market quality assurance purposes.
Consultation on freshwater farm plans was held in 2021.
The roll-out will take time
Farms that will need a certified freshwater farm plan will not be expected to have one in place from day one.
We expect those areas where a certified freshwater farm plan is most urgently needed would be prioritised for the roll-out. The criteria for how areas will be prioritised is yet to be confirmed. It could be based on regions, catchments, farm systems or practices, or other factors.
There will need to be appropriately trained and approved people available to certify freshwater farm plans.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is helping to expand and strengthen the rural advisory sector.
It’s investing in support to ensure farmers, growers, and whenua Māori owners have access to high-quality farm planning support and advice.
The careers pathway scheme will support the development of up to 100 skilled farm advisers.
The integrated farm planning accelerator fund will invest in initiatives that broaden and accelerate the uptake of an integrated approach to farm planning.
MPI is also supporting at least 170 catchment groups to improve land management practices.
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about freshwater or related programmes, email email@example.com