Farm­ing prac­tice plan on wa­ter qual­ity

Piako Post - - FRONT PAGE - GARY FAR­ROW

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’’.

SUP­PLIED

The ac­tion plan aims to im­prove wa­ter qual­ity through­out the coun­try through more en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious farm­ing prac­tices.

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