Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Milestone for farmer-led catchment groups

Government investment in on-the-ground efforts by farmers to improve land management practices has passed a milestone, with more than 170 catchment groups nationwide now receiving support, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said today.

“When it comes to freshwater, we have a job to do as an industry and that’s to restore our rivers within a generation,” Minister O’Connor said.

“Today I announced $2.1 million to support 31 farmer-led catchment groups in the ManawatūRangitīkei, and Wairarapa which are helping farmers and growers transition to more sustainable land use.

“Nationally, these groups that we are backing provide on-the-ground support to more than 5,000 farmers, helping them access expertise and tools to improve their environmental and economic sustainability, not to mention wellbeing.

“In the past 18 months, almost $29 million has been invested in catchment groups, through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) extension services and Jobs for Nature programmes.”

Extension services support a key sustainability component of the Government’s Fit for a Better World roadmap, a component that aims to restore New Zealand’s freshwater environments to a healthy state within a generation.

Mr O’Connor announced the funding during a meeting with catchment group leaders and farmers near Mangaweka in the Rangitīkei today.

“We’re investing a further $910,000 over two years in the Rangitīkei Rivers Catchment Collective (RRCC), where 17 catchment groups will be supported, with the potential for several more.”

“The Government is already investing $1.5 million from the Jobs for Nature programme for environmental restoration in the catchment and to tackle Old Man’s Beard here, which smothers native plants.

“In the Wairarapa, the Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance (WaiP2K) has been allocated $1.1 million over two years to support five existing farmer-led catchment groups and enable up to 10 more to be established.”

The Manawatū Rivers Catchment Collective, which was set up last year to bring sub-catchment groups within the wider Manawatū River catchment together, has been allocated $120,000 for a nine-month project to support nine existing groups.

Mr O’Connor said catchment groups supported farmers to develop detailed Farm Environment Plans and provided an opportunity to learn good practice from one another.

“Catchment groups working together and farmers integrating practical and meaningful insights from them into their farm plans is how we’re going to shift the dial,” Damien O’Connor said.

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