Towards a certified Freshwater Farm Plan system
Find out about Freshwater Farm Plans, how the system is being developed, and what it means for farmers.
About Freshwater Farm Plans
Establishing a certified Freshwater Farm Plan system is part of the Essential Freshwater package introduced in 2020.
Freshwater Farm Plans are part of an integrated farm planning approach that, over time, will bring all farm planning requirements into one place. Integrated farm planning will reduce duplication and costs, as well as make it simpler to meet business and regulatory requirements.
The requirements for certified Freshwater Farm Plans will be set out in detailed regulations under Part 9A of the Resource Management Act. Public engagement on these supporting regulations has begun and submissions are accepted from 26 July 2021.
Development of the regulations
The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have been, and will continue, engaging with stakeholders and experts in farm planning (from industry, councils, and Māori) to inform development of the proposed freshwater farm plan (FW-FP) regulations.
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 FW-FP regime.
Farmers already using existing farm plans to manage environmental risks should continue using this, until the new FW-FP regime is in place in their area. Once the new requirements have been decided on, farms will be able to build on or adapt these as necessary to meet the new requirements for certified Freshwater Farm Plans.
Goals of the Freshwater Farm Plans system
To be effective for freshwater, the government recognises that a certified FW-FP system will need to be workable for regional councils and for farmers. The requirements need to be flexible enough to adapt to changing situations, while being specific enough to hold farm operators to account if they're not taking the required actions.
The use of certified Freshwater Farm Plans is expected to work alongside other (non-mandatory) processes for continuous improvement in on-farm environmental management.
The intention is that the Freshwater Farm Plans system will be an integrated process that can be tailored to cover the relevant requirements for each farm. Each Freshwater Farm Plan will look different, depending on the system, the catchment area and local rules and issues, and community priorities, as well as industry and market quality assurance purposes.
The government does not expect every farm that needs a certified FW-FP will have one in place from day one.
We expect those areas where a certified FW-FP is most urgently needed would be prioritised for the roll-out. The criteria for how the prioritisation will look 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 persons available to certify FW-FPs. The government is working to strengthen the advisory sector to increase the number of qualified people able to certify a FW-FP.
On-farm implementation will take time – it's a process
Implementing a certified Freshwater Farm Plan will be an ongoing process for each farm, not a one-off event. Some actions that are identified in a farm's certified Freshwater Farm Plan may take several years to implement in some cases. It's about understanding a farm's risks and the issues facing the catchment in which the farm is located, and then taking appropriate action.
Who to contact
If you have questions about freshwater or related programmes, email email@example.com