Freshwater Farm Plans are being introduced by the Government as a way for farmers and growers to address and manage on-farm risks to freshwater. The main contaminants that need to be managed are nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment (and E. coli if you have animals).
Freshwater Farm Plans were introduced into the Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 in a new Part 9A. The Government is currently drafting regulations that will give effect to Part 9A, as signalled in the Cabinet Paper released on 30 September 2022. The regulations will provide more detail, including the minimum content of plans, who can audit and certify them, data and reporting requirements, and when and where these plans will be rolled out.
Our understanding is that the regulations could be gazetted by the end of March 2023. The regulations will take effect region by region. The first regions for rollout were originally proposed to be Southland, Gisborne and Waikato, but our understanding is that Gisborne will now be rolled out at a later date.
Once the Freshwater Farm Plan regulations are in place, horticultural operations of five or more hectares, and farms (arable, pastoral or mixed use) of 20 or more hectares will need an audited and certified Freshwater Farm Plan. Zespri is planning to pilot a tool with growers in regions first to have the regulations rolled out, to support plan development.