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Essential Freshwater Package & Farming

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 at 3:34pm

The Government has consulted on some significant proposals for freshwater management, which will affect a number of dairy farmers as well as other farmers, and urban and rural communities.

What is the Essential Freshwater Package?

The Package proposes some major changes to the management of New Zealand’s freshwaters.

The proposals have two main objectives:

  • to stop further degradation of waterways and start making immediate improvements so that water quality is improving within five years

  • to reverse past damage and bring waterways and ecosystems to a healthy state within a generation.

​What are the key aspects of the proposal that affect dairy farmers?


For dairy, the aspects of the proposal likely to have the largest impact include:

  • changes to the way in which councils implement their management plans to simplify and speed up the process

  • an increased focus on ecosystem health outcomes, including new nutrient limits, interim controls on intensification, and new practice standards for agriculture. This includes new regulations for stock exclusion, winter grazing, limiting nitrogen use, stock holding areas and feedlots, and a requirement for farmers to have a Farm Environment Plan.

​The government received over 17,000 submissions and held a lengthy 8 week consultation period.  The unprecedented level of interest reflects the importance of water quality to all New Zealanders. As of February 2020, we are still waiting on the outcomes of the submission process while the Government seek further advice and feedback from an Independent Advisory Group, and supporting advisory groups.

While no official timeframes for these reports have been publicised, we understand that they are due to Government over the coming weeks. Based on that we might anticipate further announcements from Government in April or May, but this is still to be confirmed.

Visit the MFE website for more up-to-date information.