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Farmers face a new set of rules to farm under One Plan

Rural News
Farmers face a new set of rules to farm under One Plan
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After many years of discussion, argument, and debate, and at a considerable cost (reputed to be $9 million) Horizon Regional Council's One Plan has been released, and seems to have the general support of the rural community.

With farming needing to get more intensive to survive, the environment is more at risk of degredation. An integrated plan with all sectors of the community signing up to address the problem will have a good chance of success.

Nutrient budgeting, careful development on steep land, water use management, fencing off waterways, and stricter controls on dairy effluent management, all seem reasonable controls for farming in a sustainable way.

New rules mean farmers in vulnerable catchments and those converting land to dairying will require a `consent to farm' reports The Manawatu Standard. Those farming in other areas and involved in other types of farming will have a right to farm, provided they meet environmental requirements. Horizons commissioners have just released the One Plan document, born through many years of meetings, consultation, submissions, and five major drafts.

Hill-country farmers require a resource consent if they are clearing any land at an angle of more than 28 degrees and with more than 70 per cent canopy cover.

"There is a fertiliser rule that says anyone applying more than 60 kilograms of nitrogen needs to do a nutrient budget," said Peter Taylor from Horizons, who liaises with farmers.

Farmers have asked for the opportunity to self-regulate permitted activities, and Ms Marr and Mr Taylor say this is their chance to show that self regulation will work and lead to the environmental results the community is looking for. The previous regional plans had 173 rules, and the One Plan has 131.

All farmers are now permitted to take 30 cubic metres of surface water a day.  It was 15, but that is not enough for stock troughs and cleaning out a dairy shed, and indications were that many dairy farmers were taking more, Ms Marr said. As they come forward for renewed consents, there are new effluent disposal expectations.

"Things such as increased storage, so they can irrigate during drier periods, lining their effluent ponds to stop seepage and greater separation of solids and liquids," said Ms Marr.

Stock must be excluded from waterways and wetlands and the definition of a waterway includes more streams than the dairy industry's Clean Streams Accord, she added.

The One Plan is not about making it tougher to farm, but rather about getting the farming basics right, with more of an emphasis on the environment, Horizons said.

The community wants clean water, protection of native habitat and economic growth, but not at the expense of the environment.

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