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Freshwater Farm Plans, Farm Environment Plans and Integrated Farm Plans – How do they fit together?

With new legislation on the horizon, some clarity is needed around the difference between an Integrated Farm Plan, Farm Environment Plan and Fresh Water Farm Plan. There is uncertainly around what exactly is required of farmers/orchardists and where their priorities lie.

Integrated Farm Plans

Integrated Farm Plans (IFP) encompass all modules of the Freshwater Farm Plan and Farm Environment Plan as well as a few extras, such as:

  • Animal care
  • Farm business
  • Biosecurity Plan
  • Farm Environment Plan (including FWFP)

They are not separate plan but rather a way to combine all required farm plans as well as any other regulations that come in to law. The goal of IFPs is to reduce duplication, provide a structured approach for farmers and growers to lift performance and make it easier to meet regulatory requirements. They are not a regulatory tool.

Farm Environment Plans

Farm Environment Plans (FEP) are a subset/module of an integrated farm plan. Some council regulations already require a FEP and more may be required in the future.

A FEP is used to help farmers and growers set up systems and practices which reduce their impact on the environment. They contain a set of actions which describe how environmental risks are being managed.

Some examples of what could be included in a FEP are:

  • Nutrient management
  • Climate Change/GHG Emissions
  • Biodiversity
  • Soil structure preservation
  • Irrigation management
  • Freshwater Farm Plan

Freshwater Farm Plans

Fresh Water Farm Plans (FWFP) are a subset or module of a Farm Environment plan and focus around improving local waterways. They include risks and actions which are bespoke to a farm’s physical environment and the specific catchment values where the farm is based. The Ministry for the Environment has more information here.

FWFPs are a legal requirement as part of the Resource Management Act (part 9A, sections 217A – 217M). Read the RMA here.

The RMA, part 9A, Section 217F states what needs to be included in your plan. This includes:

  • Identifying any negative effects of activities carried out on the farm on freshwater and freshwater ecosystems
  • Specifying actions that minimise or eliminate those negative effects which are clear and measurable
  • Demonstrating how any outcomes from relevant regulations are to be achieved

The requirement to prepare a FWFP will be rolled out across the country with the priority regions (Waikato and Southland) going first around mid-2023. Regulations will not formally take effect in a region until they are activated by a Ministerial decision.

Some examples of what your FWFP may include are:

  • Catchment context and values
    • Ecosystem health
    • Community outcomes
    • Farm management practices
  • Risk and impact assessment
    • Critical source areas
    • Fodder crop management
    • Wetlands
  • Actions which reduce risk
    • Strategic fencing of waterways
    • Wetland restoration
    • Winter grazing paddock plan

FWFPs will be certified and audited by people trained to do so.