Farming Policy

“TOP doesn’t want to tell farmers how to farm. We believe that by working together farmers can come up with solutions to local problems. TOP would only regulate if that doesn’t work.”

TOP knows that the vast majority of NZ’s 30,000 farmers want to protect and nurture their land and waterways for future generations. They have great ideas how this could be done but are frustrated by complex and fragmented regulations. TOP would create one simplified, holistic environmental framework covering biodiversity, climate change and freshwater quality. Specifically, TOP would:

  • Develop a certification programme for environmentally friendly farms
  • Provide monetary incentives for farmers who protect stands of native trees and wetlands
  • Allow farmers to develop their own schemes to protect local water catchments

Certification Scheme

By creating an overarching, holistic environmental management system for farmers to follow it would enable farmers to ensure they are meeting all the necessary environmental standards. The scheme would lead to a “tick” programme that would make it easy for farmers to see where they are achieving the standards, and where they need to improve. Ultimately it would lead to a certification programme that states whether a farm is environmentally friendly or not. This would be similar to health certifications on food, allowing environmentally conscious consumers to easily prioritise the best performing farm produce.

Incentives for protection of wetlands and native trees

TOP would provide monetary incentives to farmers who protect existing stands of native trees and wetlands, and who plant native trees on erosion-prone land and riverbanks. TOP would ensure that planting along riverbanks and for erosion protection would be eligible for gaining carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme.

TOP will provide farmers and their local communities with tools to be able to work together to develop the best way of protecting local catchments to achieve national water quality goals rather than mandating a particular approach. TOP will provide incentives to achieve targets, but will introduce environmental taxes for those farmers who do not protect their land.

Fresh Water

TOP believes that the proposed approach to protecting fresh water as released under the Policy Statement for Freshwater Management is too prescriptive. TOP would encourage farmers to work together to develop the best way of protecting local catchments, rather than following national regulations.

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Page last updated on 12-Oct 2020


TOP aims to make environmental compliance easier, with one seamless system including biodiversity, climate and fresh water. We want to provide farmers with certainty, particularly over the cost of compliance.

New Zealand's economy needs to focus on value rather than volume, and farming is no exception to this. Instead of aiming to increase the amount of produce we grow, we need to be producing high-quality produce aimed at discerning consumers. This will include environmental providence.

Farms need to operate within the limits that the land can sustain. We want to help transition farms to be sustainable, and in most of the country that will be possible simply by getting farmers operating at best practice. If farms consistently operate outside what the land can sustain, then yes, they should eventually be charged for it.

No. TOP will provide farm advisers to help develop farm plans. These will need to be implemented over time, but there will also be assistance and incentives to support farmers with that transition. Farmers will be rewarded for protecting existing wetlands and stands of native bush, plus planting erosion-prone land and riverbanks.

Standards will be based on farm plans which can be customised to individual farms circumstances. Water quality improvements will be determined collectively by the farmers in a sub-catchment.

No. Productive farms that operate within the limits of what their land can sustain will not pay more under TOP's policies. In fact they will be rewarded for planting erosion-prone land and riverbanks.

Yes. TOP is for progressive farmers that see the need to operate within environmental limits, but want to do that without the added bureaucracy that comes with the Labour and Green proposals.