Farming practice plan on water quality
Waikato Regional Council played a part in setting a new national requirement of having a farmer environment plan.
The idea is to decrease pollution by of lakes and waterways by farms.
‘‘Farm environment plans are required under the Healthy Rivers/Wai Ora Plan Change 1, so many Waikato farmers will already be needing to do this,’’ council resource use director Chris McLay said.
‘‘It is great to see the rural sectors taking the lead on supporting farmers to have a farm environmental plan that identifies risks to land and water on their properties and the appropriate ways to manage them.
‘‘We look forward to working with the rural organisations to achieve this.’’
Recently, Waikato sheep and beef farmer Bill Garland hosted a national launch on his farm, which borders on Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari near Cambridge.
In attendance were Environment Minister David Parker, as well as Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and a governance group.
The Good Farming Practice Action Plan aims to give horticulture and farming leaders, regional councils and central government a framework by which to improve the quality of fresh water in the country.
Under the plan, every farmer and grower will have their own farm environment action plan to help them identify and mitigate environmental risks caused by their farm.
However, environmental group Choose Clean Water said the document contained no concrete action, and a critical loophole, spokesperson Marnie Prickett said.
‘‘This ‘action plan’ is a voluntary plan to make voluntary plans over the next 12 years, rather than what it could have been; a list of concrete steps for real improvement,’’ she said.
‘‘It fails to recognise that the first and obvious action agricultural leaders can take is to immediately call for and commit to an end to conversions of land to intensive dairy farming.
‘‘This is the fatal flaw of our agricultural leaders, that they refuse to accept that we have to stop making the situation worse if we are ever going to achieve the goal of swimmable rivers that all New Zealanders want.’’
Prickett said the plan was ‘‘more tinkering around the edges and planning to make plans’’.
The action plan aims to improve water quality throughout the country through more environmentally conscious farming practices.