Potatoes NZ submission on the Essential Freshwater Review
The freshwater reforms proposed in the "Essential Freshwater" review are both a serious challenge and an opportunity for the vegetable sector. All growers and processors share the vision of healthy, clean freshwater and ecosystems. Growers, processors and PNZ are committed to a new era for freshwater management.
For growers and processors to meet the challenges of managing freshwater; they need to see a future for the sector. Growers and processors see that future being in jeopardy at present due to the regulatory approaches adopted by regional authorities for managing freshwater.
The values of stewardship, food security and food production are the reasons why growers and PNZ are determined to improve environmental practices; conduct actual measurement of discharges and to improve them over time through approved farm plans and conditions of consent.
Work is currently underway with the PNZ Emissions Taskforce, to provide the sector with direct measurement and decision support tools for leaching of nutrients, and the sector is developing the capacity to store and provide information digitally for a better chain of custody.
PNZ’s view is that:
Potato production and other vegetable production is an essential ecosystem service that supports healthy communities. It is an essential human need. Water is essential for growing vegetables and so is the ability to utilise good land.
Vegetable production has climate change benefits, when compared to other activities and food security is a very important consideration for climate change adaptation and response.
Growers value stewardship of water, land and food chains. Growers have often succeeded previous generations into vegetable growing.
We need to produce more food in the future than we are producing now. You cannot do that with less land and water, because the Grower community is already highly efficient and resource constrained. The potatoes we grow mainly feed New Zealanders and other valued neighbouring communities such as Australia and the Pacific Islands.
The Government has signalled it wishes to protect Highly Productive Land to grow food. Growers have long sought this as well. To grow food on highly productive land; water, cultivation and fertiliser is required.
The NPS Freshwater and the resulting NES must provide a regulatory framework that:
Allows people to grow vegetables on highly productive land and ensures an appropriate allocation of resources to allow for the utility of this scarce land.
Encourages collective management and cooperation to achieve environmental outcomes.
Allows for growth in vegetable production to feed communities in the future.
Appropriately manages the right to grow and the social licence through a consenting framework that encourages better stewardship; and provides greater insight to regulators and the public.
Requires continuing improvement in environmental performance and manages both cumulative and localised impacts on freshwater.