Intensive winter grazing module
The module has important information for farmers who graze stock on winter crops.
What farmers, regional councils and industry bodies need to know about the module
- The module includes a template for farmers who don’t already have a written plan for their winter grazing.
- Regional councils and industry bodies should ensure their guidance and farm plan templates are consistent with expectations in the module.
- Some already have rules in their plans to permit or restrict winter grazing. If these are more stringent than the guidance in the module they will continue to apply.
- If farmers do require a resource consent under regional rules, regional councils must assess the application in light of relevant objectives and rules in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (ie, Te Mana o Te Wai; Policy 6 no further loss of wetlands; protection of wetland values; promotion of wetland values; relevant national bottom lines).
- Regional councils must continue to enforce the intensification rules in the National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. These do not allow for any new or expanded winter grazing without resource consent.
- Existing farm plans will be tested and incorporated into certified freshwater farm plans from early 2022.
How do I determine the permitted area of intensive winter grazing and how does it differ from the temporary restrictions on intensive winter grazing expansion?
This question combines two separate (but closely-related) sets of policies.
One set of policies requires the calculation of land used for intensive winter grazing as a percentage of the total farm.
The other set of policies requires the comparison of land currently used for intensive winter grazing against land use in a historical reference period (2014-2019), but does not require the calculation of a percentage.
Carrying out intensive winter grazing – general
Regulations 26 – 27 apply to all winter grazing from 1 May 2022 and will continue to apply after 1 January 2025 (compare with regulations 28-31, below).
Regulation 26(4)(a) provides that to carry out intensive winter grazing as a permitted activity, the area of the farm used for intensive winter grazing must be no greater than either 50 ha or 10% of the area of the farm (whichever is greater). If the area exceeds this maximum, the farm must get a consent.
Farm means a landholding whose activities include agriculture. So a “farm” doesn’t have to be wholly dedicated to agriculture – it could carry out a mixture of land uses e.g. both pastoral farming (agriculture) and forestry (non-agriculture).
Landholding means 1 or more parcels of land (whether or not they are contiguous) that are managed as a single operation. So a “farm” doesn’t have to be a single block.
Therefore, r 26(4)(a) refers to 10% of the whole farming operation, not only e.g. connecting blocks of pastoral land.
Temporary restrictions on expansion of intensive winter grazing
Regulations 28 – 31 are temporary rules aimed at controlling the expansion of intensive winter grazing on a farm compared to a specified past reference period (1 July 2014 - 30 June 2019).
They are temporary because they are only in force from 1 May 2021 and will no longer apply from 1 January 2025. They cease to apply even earlier than that if the relevant regional council notifies a plan that gives effect to the NPS Freshwater Management 2020.
Regulations 28-31 apply in addition to the rules in regulations 26 – 27. Their effect is to prevent both new winter grazing and the expansion of winter grazing above an historical maximum (unless the farm gets a consent).
The permitted activity conditions in r 29(3) are that:
- land on the farm must have been used for intensive winter grazing between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2019; and
- the area of land used for intensive winter grazing can’t exceed the maximum area that was used for intensive winter grazing between 1 July 2014 – 30 June 2019
Once again, the rules apply to a “farm” as defined in the NES. So the rules apply to single operations that are not necessarily contiguous and do not necessarily solely comprise agricultural activities.
However, unlike regulations 26-27, these temporary rules require a simple comparison of the current area of land used for intensive winter grazing with the area used for intensive winter grazing in the past. This means there is no need to calculate a percentage of the total farm in order to apply them.