Horizons plan change gives certainty to local dairy farmers

April 15 2021

A new Horizons Regional Council plan change decision will benefit dairy farmers, the environment and local communities.

The decision is welcomed by DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, which worked alongside farmers to achieve the result. Together, the two organisations proposed an additional consent pathway to be available alongside the council’s proposed pathway.

Version changes to Overseer had unintentionally made it extremely difficult for some farmers in the region to gain consent to continue farming. Both pathways will now be available for these farmers to seek consent, while looking after the environment, said DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Dr David Burger.

The first consent pathway put forward by the council is for farmers to achieve a series of nitrogen loss targets – these vary based on land use capability class of the farm.

The second option put forward by DairyNZ and Federated Farmers provides a pathway for farms to make a minimum 20 percent reduction in nitrogen losses from their previous farm baseline numbers.

The evidence from both organisations showed the new consent pathway provided balanced environmental and economic benefits, said Dr Burger.

“DairyNZ and Federated Farmers have been working to support farmers through this process over the past six years, which has included significant investment.

“After years of uncertainty this decision now provides clarity for farmers and the community on what targets need to be met and by when.”

“Both options need farmers to make significant nutrient reductions but give farmers choices as they work to reduce their environmental footprint,” said Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

“This is a great win for farmers, local communities and the environment.”


  • Consents approved under the two pathways will last for a maximum for 10 years.
  • The changes are an interim measure while a more fundamental, region-wide work programme is progressed by Horizons Regional Council to give effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020.
  • Overseer is an online software that models the environmental footprint of individual farms.

Media inquiries:

Vanessa Feaver

Senior Media Manager

Phone 027 836 6295


Ali Tocker

Senior Media Specialist

Phone 027 364 7532


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