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The New Zealand Government has announced significant reforms aimed at improving its water quality outcomes

Under the new Essential Freshwater Package, dairy farmers will be required to report annually to councils the quantity of nitrogen applied per hectare as synthetic fertiliser. A cap on the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser of 190kg N/hectare/year will apply, with a review in 2023. Fertiliser companies will have to report on sales to ensure the overall level of use is heading in the right direction.  Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor estimates 80% of dairy farmers won’t be affected by the cap on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.

In addition, proposals put forward by Dairy NZ for mandatory farm environmental plans is included in the new policy. Dairy NZ have also welcomed the adoption of practical rules on stock exclusion in the package. Dairy NZ have raised concerns over several aspects of the package including the cap on nitrogen use.

The Government said the legislative package, which covers urban as well as rural water quality issues, will be supported by a funding package worth $700 million.

Eamonn Farrell – Agri Food Policy Executive