Wednesday, 16 June 2021 09:55

Plan for Government-imposed farm plans take shape

Written by  David Anderson
Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor says its levy-funded farm plan covers much of the Government’s new guidance. Beef+Lamb NZ chief executive Sam McIvor says its levy-funded farm plan covers much of the Government’s new guidance.

An agreed framework on farm plans has been made between Government and the farming sector.

Last week, 'The Good Farm Planning Principles Guide' was released, which Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor claims will make it easier for farmers and growers to integrate future greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater regulatory requirements into their farm planning.

"The guide is the gateway to an integrated farm planning approach; that is, each farmer looking at their farm as a whole, from soils to staff, and from emissions to EBIT."

O'Connor says the guide was developed by the Integrated Farm Planning Steering Group, which was made up of representatives from farming industry organisations, councils, Māori agribusiness and government. He says the group drew from the existing planning programmes of the agriculture and horticulture sectors, as well as current regulatory frameworks such as health and safety.

"I'm conscious of the good planning practice that is already happening within our various sectors and I think this framework reflects that," O'Connor said.

"However, some farmers still need some support and guidance. With new farm planning requirements for freshwater and climate change coming down the line, we need to bring all farmers along on the journey. This guide is the first step - putting in place baselines to help people combine and improve their existing farm planning, so that they are ready for the change that is coming."

In the recent Budget, the Government allocated $37 million over four years to farm planning. This aims to deliver 100 more people to provide advice to farmers and growers with aspects of planning.

O'Connor says the steering group will continue to work with industry to align their assurance plans with the new farm plan framework.

"That will be in place by the end of 2021 and a significant step in a programme of work that will go into 2022."

Meanwhile, Beef+Lamb NZ is reassuring farmers that its levy-funded farm plan covers much of the Government's new guidance on integrated farm planning.

"B+LNZ's new farm plan launched earlier this year is based on an integrated approach with the environment module covering soils, freshwater ecosystem health, forage cropping, climate change and biodiversity," chief executive Sam McIvor says.

"B+LNZ plans to add other modules in response to farmer and market demand in the future. The B+LNZ farm plan is also aligned with the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme."

McIvor also emphasises that this guidance is non-regulatory and adds that an 'integrated approach' is at the heart of the organisation's new farm plan and the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme.

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