A swathe of regulations meant to clean New Zealand waters is not a war on farmers, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Yesterday the Government announced its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways plan to halt degradation in New Zealand waterways.

The proposal includes tighter restrictions for farmers, including restrictions on land intensification, improvements to "risky" farm practices, and more controls on changing land use to dairy.

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There would be higher water quality standards for some swimming spots and stronger protections on wetlands and streams.

Federated Farmers has said the regulations are "unnecessarily stringent" and would come at great cost to farmers and rural communities.

Ardern said new rules would not force farms to close.

"What's being announced today is actually a recognition that actually there is some fantastic practice being modelled by farmers in New Zealand. What we need to do is lift everyone to those standards."

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The plan costs the changes for a hypothetical sheep and beef farm on a rolling hill at $148,500 over 10 years, and $93,500 for a lowland dairy farm.

Ardern said it was "absolutely not" a war on farming.

The Government recognised the country's economy was "hugely reliant" on rural exports, she said.


"This plan stops the degradation we're seeing and looks to the course of a generation to make sure they are swimmable again."

It also included rules which would impact urban areas and was "not about blame", she said.

The comments of Federated Farmers were in "direct contrast" to conversations she had with other members the country's rural community, she said.

"I don't think that everyone is of the same view as Federated Farmers."