Economic impact of freshwater reforms revealed for Ashburton District

Published: 9 December 2020

​The impact of achieving the Government's freshwater management reforms will affect the entire Ashburton District, but building on well-proven approaches to implementing change will help farmers meet the challenge, a new report has revealed.

The Ashburton District Council has today released its Land and Water Management Economic Impact Report detailing the freshwater reform's expected impact on agricultural productivity and the flow-on effects this will have for the rest of the local economy.

The report conservatively estimates that collectively, farm profitability across the district will decline $57.9 million (or 83 per cent) per year, while farm expenditure within the District will also decline by $139.9 million (or 23 per cent).

​With less revenue, farmers will have to tighten their spending with service and support businesses, resulting in lower levels of employment across the sector.

Using the projected impact to the district from Plan Change Two of the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan in the Hinds Plains Catchment, the report identified that adequate time is paramount to helping farms to evolve and deliver sustainable change.

"We can see from this report that the successful transition to better freshwater outcomes needs to be very carefully balanced with economic sustainability," Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown says."Meaningful change cannot happen overnight. In addition to time, it is critical that our industry and community are supporting innovation and filling gaps in knowledge.

This will help our farming practices to evolve so that we can continue producing food and fibre, and minimise the negative unintended economic consequences for our community.

”The report stated that meeting the new freshwater reform targets would be even more challenging than what farmers have already been working towards in the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan, and that if the timeframes for achieving the reforms are short, the negative consequences of change are likely to become more significant.

This is the first report to be commissioned investigating the economic impact of the Government's National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management Reforms on the Ashburton District.The full report is available on the Ashburton District Council's website​.

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