Freshwater Farm Plan consultation underway

The Government is seeking feedback on its proposed Freshwater Farm Plan (FW-FP) module, part of the Government’s push towards integrated farm planning.

Environment Canterbury Chief Executive Stefanie Rixecker said the regional council would be working through the information provided by the Government to understand the differences between Canterbury’s Farm Environment Plans (FEPs) and the proposed new FW-FPs.

“It is reassuring to note that much of what the Government is proposing follows on from the FEP / Good Management Practice (GMP) approach that has been operating successfully in Canterbury for some time, with a focus on farm management practices and auditing,” she said.

The new system is proposed to go further than GMP by linking an individual farm plan to what is important in order to improve water quality in the catchment where the farm is. “This is similar to rules in our sub-region plans,” Stefanie Rixecker said.

“Many farmers in Canterbury have invested significantly in FEPs, either as required under the Land and Water Regional Plan or as part of their farm business planning. There is now an opportunity to highlight the benefits we have seen in Canterbury through the development of FEPs and GMP.”

All farms above 20 ha, or 5 ha for horticultural units, are likely to need FW-FPs.

“Environment Canterbury welcomes the chance to participate in the consultation process, and encourages everyone, particularly all farmers, to participate as well - either directly or through their industry bodies,” Stefanie Rixecker said.

Transitioning to Freshwater Farm Plans

Farmers with FEPs and FEP audits should be aware that these are likely to develop into FW-FPs over time, but for now their focus should still be on their FEPs and their next FEP audit.

“We expect a transition once implementation of the module is underway, but it will take some time before decisions can be made about how the new system will be implemented in Canterbury," she said.

“We also note the proposed changes to the Stock Exclusion Regulations, and encourage farmers and others to submit on these as well."

Impacts and assistance

“We acknowledge that farmers, particularly in Canterbury, have a lot to think about at present, and that it is having an impact on their lives and their farming practices. Thanks to all those who continue to do the right thing by the environment,” Stefanie Rixecker said.

“Environment Canterbury is committed to continuing to work with farmers and the wider community to help ensure that the environment is protected without unduly impacting personal or family/whanau wellbeing. Help is also available from industry bodies, rural support trusts and others.”

Consultation links

Head to the Ministry for the Environment website to read the Freshwater farm plan documentation, the stock exclusion low slope map discussion document and have your say. 

More information

Find out more about Canterbury’s approach to water management.