Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality

  • Hon Damien O’Connor

Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers.

The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

“Yesterday the Government delivered on our commitment to clean up our waterways with a new package that will create jobs and benefit the value of New Zealand’s agriculture export and tourism offerings.

“This investment in the King Country River Care group is further evidence of us delivering on that commitment.

“We’ve also delivered a $700 million fund that will create jobs in riparian and wetland planting, removing sediments and other initiatives to prevent farm run off entering waterways. The fund is for the primary sector, iwi/Māori, local government and their communities.

“Backing catchment groups like this is a vital part of achieving these reforms. They, and other groups around the country, are playing a central role in restoring wetlands, removing sediment, and keeping stock from waterways.

“We’re working with a number of other groups right now, all across the country, to support their work. I look forward to making more announcements like this in the coming weeks.

“Our farmers and growers play a vital role in New Zealand’s rural communities and economy and will do for the foreseeable future.

“Our long-term future and brand is linked to the health of our waterways. This is because overseas consumers increasingly want greater assurances that the food and fibre they buy is produced in a sustainable way – and they’ll pay a premium for it.

“Farmers get that and many have done a huge amount of work to improve their practices over the last 20 years and some of them are leading the way. There is a lot of great knowledge to be shared and that’s exactly what this project will do. This funding will enable King Country River Care to support sub-catchment farmer groups to connect and learn from each other.”

Mr O’Connor said the project has a strong initial focus on increasing the number of Farm Environment Plans, sub-catchment action plans, and on-farm field days.

“King Country River Care is a great example of the types of great work happening all across the country to improve our waterways.  Our farmers understand that putting the hard yards in now will protect our waterways for many generations to come.”

About King Country River Care

  • The catchment is approximately 1,444 square kilometres and includes the Awakino, Mōkau, and upper Mangaokewa catchments.
  • The project brings together MPI, the Waikato regional council, industry bodies, and farm consultancies to achieve the objectives of the catchment groups.
  • King Country River Care provides leadership, coordination, and support to seven sub-catchment groups. Its goals are to provide farmer support on environmental challenges and build community resilience by:
    • protecting the culture, economy and resilience of their wider community;
    • facilitating and promote ‘good farming practice’ of sustainable land management principles; and
    • ensuring their region’s farmers have a voice and are represented in communications with external stakeholders and development of policy.
  • King Country River Care has included strategies in the first six months of the contract that enable them to continue to work and provide support to their farmers during the COVID-19 response. These strategies include increased farmer contact using phone calling, and online forums for discussions, problem solving, and planning. This contact and connection facilitates farmer wellbeing, and ensures farmers are supported to meet their current challenges and plan for future opportunities.