Intensive winter grazing rules in effect to protect freshwater

Horizons Regional Council are urging farmers to make sure they’re familiar with new regulations to better control the effects of intensive winter grazing.

In September 2020, central government introduced the Essential Freshwater package which included new rules and policies aimed at halting or reversing the degradation of our freshwater bodies. The National Environment Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW), which are part of this package, requires farmers who can’t meet the Permitted Activity rules to apply for resource consent for intensive winter grazing by 1 May 2023.

Horizons regulatory manager Greg Bevin says Horizons website has a clear process laid out to support farmers with the new regulations.  

“We are taking a strategically staged approach to issuing consents by prioritising risk and environmental impact,” says Mr Bevin. 

“Our website steps farmers through this process, including how to determine farm operation risk level, and details how to apply for consent. However, regardless of a farm’s risk level we expect all farmers to continue with best practice, which includes an intensive winter grazing management plan to identify environmental risks and on farm mitigations.

“Making and following a plan to manage intensive winter grazing is essential to reducing the risk of nutrients, faecal pathogens and sediment run-off contaminating freshwater. As always, if there are any practice issues reported while we take the staged approach, we will take the appropriate action.”

Mr Bevin says Horizons is also holding workshops in March to assist with intensive winter grazing consent applications.

“These details, including how to register for the workshops, can be found on our website as well. We will undertake further promotion for the workshops in the new year.”

You can view the intensive winter grazing regulations here. Horizons’ rural advice team is also available on freephone 0508 800 800.