Update on freshwater consultation / proposed National Environmental Standard for Commercial Vegetable Growing

15 Oct 2019

Submissions on the Government’s freshwater consultation are due at the end of October. 

The freshwater consultation has two elements:

  • The first is an update of the National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management.  This policy sets the framework for the regional plans that regulate water use, including setting long term objectives for water quality and flows.
  • The second element is the National Environmental Standard (NES) for Freshwater that establishes national rules.  This is a transitional programme designed to stop further water degradation and start improving water quality.

We are finalising both a comprehensive submission from HortNZ and a proforma submission for growers to consider using.  We will circulate the drafts of these submissions to you by the end of this week. 

HortNZ has also been asked by Environment Minister, David Parker to put forward our ideas about how vegetable growing in the future can be regulated as part of our comprehensive submission.

We will put forward the concept of a specific NES for Commercial Vegetable Growing.  This would provide a nationally consistent planning framework. It would also take precedence over all the existing council rules that currently regulate commercial vegetable growing in New Zealand. 

The NES for Commercial Vegetable Growing would be a permanent set of regulations, not transitional.  It will would need to work for different crops, growing systems and locations.  

A national planning approach for vegetables is justified because:

  • Growing vegetables is a national food system
  • Healthy food is essential for New Zealanders’ health
  • Regional Councils have failed to provide for commercial vegetable growing. 

The broad principals / outline of an NES for Commercial Vegetable Growing could be something like:

  • Located on Highly Productive Land
  • Crop rotation supported
  • Distributed across New Zealand to provide for resilience and seasonal food provision
  • Recognition that export and domestic vegetable growing is integrated, and should be regulated together
  • Support existing growing with the ability to enable expansion for domestic food supply and export.
  • Consented activity
  • Consent granted to the operator not the landowner, and can be transferred.
  • Risk-based approach to good management and best management practices
  • Additional actions for sensitive catchments.
  • Certified and independently audited Farm Environment Plans through a Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) programme. 

HortNZ will work closely with growers and product groups to develop the NES for Commercial Vegetable Growing.  We anticipate the consultation and drafting will take a year.

We have an opportunity to build momentum for an NES for Commercial Vegetable Growing through our freshwater submissions.  That is why we welcome your feedback on a proposed NES for Commercial Vegetable Growing now by emailing HortNZ Natural Resources and Environment Manager, Michelle Sands.