It not only reports on progress to date - click here for an example of what individual growers are doing - but the action plan also sets out good management principles for achieving environmental sustainability. It is making public what the rural sector is doing and working towards.
As Minister Parker observed at the launch event, this is a set of principles that central Government, regional councils and the primary industries have agreed to, that can be applied nationwide. The importance of the same principles being applied across New Zealand catchment-by-catchment is a significant achievement. It will underpin and support environmental sustainability throughout rural New Zealand. But Minister Parker also noted that there needs to be flexibility, so that advances in growing technology and land use change can be accommodated. He particularly referred to vegetable crop rotation with pasture, and other vegetable crops being provided for.
Both Ministers are keen to see progress, with Minister Parker committing to using regulation for nutrient allocation. He stated that education and regulation are the only ways to achieve improved water quality. He noted that regional councils have regulated already, but he believes that central Government will also need to regulate to achieve the desired outcomes, as there are very difficult decisions to be made when it comes to setting nutrient allocations. Minister O’Connor agreed, pointing out that growers and farmers needed guidance and need to know what to do, noting that we have the finest farming systems in the world that will be better environmentally in the future because of these initiatives.
Meeting the expectations of consumers was referred to by both Ministers: to maintain our premium place in our offshore markets consumers want to understand how the produce is grown in an environmentally sustainable way. So as Minister Parker observed for successful policy:
- There needs to be education – this is what the action plan is;
- There needs to be regulation to ensure compliance; and
- There needs to be payment – this coming from meeting consumers’ expectations and earning premium pricing.
Minister O’Connor summed it up saying we were and we had to ensure for the future that we have the best products from the best country.