Horowhenua vegetable growers get behind farm environment plans

More than 30 Horowhenua vegetable growers have signed up to audited farm environment plans to prove that they care for the environment and freshwater.

The move follows the release of the Government's proposed Essential Freshwater strategy which seeks to stop further degradation and reverse past damage of New Zealand's freshwater resources.

Tararua Growers President Terry Olsen told the growers at a meeting in Levin that that now was the time to prove to central and regional government that growers follow best practice.

"We need to put our energy into ensuring the Government's freshwater proposals result in positive outcomes," he said.

"For example, we can use audited farm management plans to show that we are serious about the environment and farming sustainably," said Olsen.

Growers met in Levin to discuss the Government's proposed freshwater strategy.
Growers met in Levin to discuss the Government's proposed freshwater strategy. Photo credit: Supplied

The meeting was hosted by Horticulture New Zealand and Vegetables New Zealand.

Vegetables New Zealand General Manager Antony Heywood said vegetable growers across the country were concerned about the impact the freshwater proposals and nutrient limits could have on their businesses.

"Vegetable growers are proud of the fresh, healthy food that they grow for New Zealanders. Many of their businesses are inter-generational and their focus is on growing sustainably for the years to come," he said.

"Audited farm management plans offer growers throughout the country a way to show central and local government that they are always looking for ways to reduce further their environmental impact," said Heywood.

Horticulture New Zealand and Vegetables New Zealand are holding workshops in Levin, to support vegetable growers on ways to demonstrate how they follow best practice, and plan to hold meetings across the country.

Under the freshwater strategy, the Government wants to cut fertiliser use and pollution going into waterways, protect urban streams, and improve protection for wetlands on both public and private land.

"If we don't fix things now they only get worse and will be more expensive to fix," Environment Minister David Parker said at the announcement.

"Cleaning up polluted waterways is a long-term challenge that will take a generation to fix, but the steps in this plan will make a real difference and get things heading in the right direction."

Submissions on the proposals close at 5pm on October 31.