Freshwater Farm Plans
What are they?
Freshwater Farm Plans (FWFPs) are being introduced by the Government as a way for farmers and growers to manage the impacts of their farm or orchard activities on freshwater and freshwater ecosystems. They were introduced into the Resource Management Amendment Act 2020, and the details of the rules and requirements are still being worked out.
Once regulations are in place, horticultural operations larger than five hectares, and farms (arable, pastoral or mixed use) larger than 20 hectares will need to have Freshwater Farm Plans.
Freshwater Farm Plans are essentially a new name for Farm Environment Plans. Both types of farm plan require growers to map their property, identify environmental risks (such as erosion) and assess how they will mitigate those risks.
Freshwater Farm Plans are essentially another name for Farm Environment Plans. At the moment, the Ministry for the Environment is finalising the specific requirements for what's to be included, and recognising industry schemes/pathways for growers to meet the standards. When these requirements are finalised HortNZ will notify growers of what they need to do.
In the meantime, growers can use the NZGAP Environment Management System (EMS) to create a Freshwater Farm Plan. There may be some small additional steps to meet the Government's requirements, but HortNZ is advocating for recognition of the EMS. All growers can use the EMS as part of their GAP system, including GLOBALG.A.P. growers.
What is HortNZ’s position and why?
HortNZ believes that Freshwater Farm Plans should recognise growers’ existing Farm Environment Plans, such as the NZGAP EMS. HortNZ wants recognition of the EMS as it is a widely used, independently audited tool that growers are already using to manage their impact on freshwater quality.
HortNZ also believes that growers need to be given enough time and support to adopt these changes. Given the right tools and time, growers can achieve freshwater objectives by adopting industry best practices.