Government’s freshwater management reforms will slash farm profits by $57.9 million and farm spending across the district by $139.9m, a just-released Ashburton District Council report shows.
The first economic report on the impact of the reforms says the whole district will be affected, but building on well-proven approaches to implementing change will help farmers meet the challenge.
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.
The report says farmers need adequate time 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 said.
“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 said meeting the new freshwater targets would be even more challenging than what farmers have already been working towards.