It’s Go Time for freshwater farm plans in North Otago

31 January 2024

Freshwater Farm Plan regulations require properties over a certain size to have a certified and audited freshwater farm plan in place and this begins in Otago from tomorrow, 1 February 2024, starting with North Otago.

More than 500 Otago farmers and growers in North Otago (and East Otago) now have 18 months to have their freshwater farms plans created and certified.

Freshwater farm plans are a practical way for farmers and growers to identify, manage and reduce the impact of farming on the freshwater environment.

All pastoral or arable land of more than 20 hectares will require a freshwater farm plan, as will all horticultural land of 5 hectares or more.

ORC’s Manager of Environmental Implementation, Libby Caldwell says ORC has fielded a number of questions already from the farming community.

“It’s great to see such interest in an area where we can see so much potential to focus on freshwater while helping farmers and growers plan for the future.”

Many of Otago’s farmers, industry professionals, growers, and catchment groups are leading the way in global farming practices and ORC is keen to work with our communities to build on the great work already being done.

ORC staff have contacted landowners in North Otago that will potentially require a freshwater farm plan and offered support through community workshops and meetings, a regular newsletter and online resources to ensure farmers and growers understand the process and are confident in creating their freshwater farm plan.

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) expects about 34,500 Freshwater Farm Plans to be in place across the country eventually with plans rolled out to all regions by the end of 2025.

Lower Clutha will be next in the Otago rollout and will have 18 months from 1 August 2024 to have freshwater farm plans certified.

“National training for certifiers is now open for Otago, with 19 people already undertaking or having completed this training. Regional training kicks off in March,” Miss Caldwell says.

Further information can be found on ORC’s Freshwater farm plans web page: orc.govt.nz/farmplans

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