About freshwater farm plans
Freshwater farm plans will provide a practical way to manage and reduce the impact of farming on waterways.
Establishing a certified freshwater farm plan system is part of the Essential Freshwater package introduced by the Government in 2020.
Find out about the Essential Freshwater package
What are freshwater farm plans?
Freshwater farm plans will help farmers identify practical actions on-farm to improve local waterways.
Actions will be specific to each farm and will build on the work many farmers are already doing.
The requirements for certified freshwater farm plans will be set out in detailed regulations under Part 9A of the Resource Management Act.
Farm planning framework supports farmers into the future – Government media release
Farm management for healthy waterways
Who will need a freshwater farm plan?
Farmers will need a freshwater farm plan if they have:
- 20 hectares or more in arable or pastoral use
- 5 hectares or more in horticultural use
- 20 hectares or more of combined use.
Farmers will hear from their regional council when they need to start developing a freshwater farm plan.
Goals of the freshwater farm plan system
To be effective, the system will need to be workable for regional councils and farmers.
It’s expected plans will work alongside other (non-mandatory) processes for continuous improvement in on-farm environmental management.
Each plan will look different, depending on:
- farm type
- catchment area
- local rules and issues
- community priorities
- industry and market quality assurance purposes.
Consultation on freshwater farm plans was held in 2021.
Read more in the Freshwater Farm Plan consultation discussion document [PDF, 1.2 MB]
Read the summary of submissions – Freshwater farm plan regulations
The roll-out will take time
Freshwater farm plans are expected to start coming into effect from 2023, in line with advice to Cabinet in mid-2021.
The requirement for a freshwater farm plan will be gradually introduced in 3 or 4 regions at a time. Full implementation of the system is expected to take a number of years.
The first regions for roll out in 2023 are:
Pilot projects have been run in these regions to test the freshwater farm plan process at a catchment level. These were joint projects between the relevant regional council, iwi, hapū, and rūnanga, the Ministry for the Environment, and the Ministry for Primary Industries. Gisborne’s roll out date of 2023 has been deferred due to Cyclone Gabrielle.
Freshwater farm plans are part of an integrated approach that will eventually bring a farm's planning requirements into one place.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is helping to strengthen the rural advisory sector to ensure farmers, growers, and whenua Māori owners have access to high-quality farm planning support.
The careers pathway scheme is supporting employers to hire and train new primary industry advisers.
The integrated farm planning accelerator fund is investing in initiatives that increase a whole-of-farm approach to planning.
The integrated farm planning accelerator fund
MPI also has information and support on taking an integrated approach to farm planning.
Integrated farm planning work programme
MPI funds catchment groups to improve land management practices.
Extension Services programme for farmers
The On Farm Support team helps to navigate requirements around climate, water and the environment.
On Farm Support: a service for farmers and growers
Find out more
Freshwater farm plans – Ministry for the Environment
Who to contact
If you have questions about freshwater or related programmes, email firstname.lastname@example.org