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Source: Federated Farmers

Horizons Regional Council’s decision to push out implementation of new requirements around freshwater is a victory for common sense, and advocacy by Federated Farmers and others, Ian Strahan says.
The Manawatu-Rangitikei Feds president says he’s delighted Horizons will delay implementing the One Plan freshwater plan change until late 2026/early 2027.
“The reasons they’ve cited are pretty much the arguments Federated Farmers have been advancing for several years.
“We’ve repeatedly told Horizons they need to pause, slow down the process and gather robust information.
“We’ve also been saying they need to land on practical rules and targets that balance economic and environmental wins.”
Strahan says the council decision is excellent news for the Manawatu, Rangitikei, Whanganui, Tararua and Ruapehu communities directly affected. “It also sets an example for other parts of New Zealand to make use of the plan change breathing space granted by the new Government while it reviews and replaces the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.”
In setting the new deadline, Horizons said it was “highly unlikely” it would have been able to meet its previous December 2024 target for notification of the plan, not least because of the economic modelling and social impact assessment work still to be done.
“Federated Farmers said the large reduction targets for nutrients and contaminants in draft proposals were unrealistic and unworkable,” Strahan says.
“Farming makes up over half the economic activity of the region. If we kneecap ourselves economically, the environment will also suffer.
“In my experience, the farmers who take the lead in the environment space are the ones doing well in food and fibre production.
“If you pull the rug on their revenue, you’re pulling the rug on their ability to invest in planting, waterway protection and the like.”
Horizons said the extension allows time to do a better-quality job, to consult well with the community, and end up with a more robust and lasting plan change.
“It’s taken them a long time to reach this valid conclusion, but we’re very glad they’ve got there in the end,” Strahan says.