Jacinda Ardern denies the Government will introduce a cap on cows in New Zealand - but says we need to look at different land-use options.
Appearing on The AM Show on Tuesday, the Prime Minister says the Government is working on a national policy statement to keep our freshwater unpolluted. However this will focus on nutrient run-off limits instead of a direct cap on the number of cattle.
"The focus is on the pollution," she says.
"What we'll be looking at is the amount of impact across an entire area. Because that's what we have to look at, the way that land use in different areas is causing an impact on our waterways across a whole area."
By the end of May, the Government expects advice from the Land and Water Forum on how to divide up nutrient discharge rights.
Ms Ardern says some farmers should be encouraged to move away from farming and towards horticulture and forestry instead.
"In some areas they're pulling out trees in order to create dairy farms, and we should think about whether that's the best use of that land."
The dairy industry says they want to work with the Government on improving water quality.
"It's an important thing to us; it's an important thing to the Government. We are keen to work together," Tim Mackle from Dairy NZ told Newshub on Monday.
"We actually do support having consistency between regional councils across the country."
Ms Ardern says it's important to prevent "further degradation" to our environment.
"People want to be able to swim in rivers again, so we have to make sure now we're talking about what do we need to do to make that a reality," she says.
"We're saying by default this idea that you can just intensify and add more and more without it having an impact - we have to acknowledge it does."