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Farm environment plan template approved

Environment Canterbury confirmed Fonterra’s farm environment plan template meets the requirements of the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan (LWRP).

Under the LWRP, all farms requiring a land use consent to farm must produce an environmental plan to support it. Environment Canterbury Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said the Fonterra template made that process a lot easier and exceeded the regulatory requirements of Schedule 7 of the LWRP.

“Like the Farm Environment Plan Assessment Group, I was impressed with the ease of use of the template and its ability to adapt to the specifics of a property, only populating the relevant parts,” Mr Bayfield said.

Mat Cullen, Fonterra Farmer Solutions Manager, said the template was part of the Co-operative’s Tiaki Sustainable Dairying programme that enables farmers to use specialised regional knowledge, expertise and services to support best practice farm management and meet regulatory requirements.

“Our farm environment plan (FEP) service combines the skills of our Sustainable Dairying Advisors with the latest in geospatial mapping software to produce a high-quality product that our farmers find very easy to understand,” Mr Cullen said.

“It is a testament to the strength of the Co-op that we are able to provide this service at no extra cost to our farmers to ensure they have the tools and support they need to plan and implement environmental improvements on farm.”

The Tiaki programme also offers other services around nutrient management, resource consents, waterway management and water use management.

The Tiaki FEP template can be populated electronically with data from various sources including field inspection. It is designed for use across the country using data relevant to the region.

The Land & Water Regional Plan is a primary delivery mechanism of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“It is reassuring to see in the Fonterra template a methodology that will enable the development of plans and to identify and address actual and potential environmental effects and risks,” Bill Bayfield said.

“We encourage all farmers to prepare farm environment plans. International markets are increasingly demanding proven sustainability, and farm environment plans are one way to demonstrate this.”

Under Schedule 7 of the Land & Water Regional Plan, farm environment plans can be prepared either by landowners themselves or via industry-prepared templates and guidance material.

Minimum content is specified, and all farm environment plans must include an assessment of the adverse environmental effects and risks associated with the farming activities and how those effects and risks will be managed. This includes irrigation, application of nutrients, effluent, stock exclusion from waterways, offal pits and farm rubbish pits. Farm environment plans must be auditable.

Schedule 7 of the LWRP is subject to several changes in the Nutrient Management and Waitaki Plan Change (Plan Change 5, currently under appeal) including the addition of matters set out in sub-region plans. These include important things such as identification of further features such as flood protection works, public access management of phosphorus risk zones and management of sites with mahinga kai.

Fonterra has included these items in its template, including sections specific to the Selwyn Te Waihora and Waitaki zones. This avoids the need to update the template once Plan Change 5 becomes operative, unless changes are made to the Schedule.

Source: Environment Canterbury

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