The Government is boosting its support of 20 community-led catchment groups in Otago to help their on-the-ground work to improve land management practices, Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor says.
"We've allocated $545,000 to the Otago Catchment Community (OCC) to expand support for existing and emerging groups over the next three years."
O'Connor said the funding was on top of $8.5 million already allocated to catchment groups across Otago through the Jobs for Nature, One Billion Trees, and Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) programmes.
"The Otago Catchment Community was set up last year to connect the region's diverse network of catchment groups which are helping farmers tackle environmental challenges.
"This funding will enable OCC to ramp up support for Otago's growing catchment groups and provide much-needed opportunities to share information."
A key component of the Government's Fit for a Better World roadmap is to restore New Zealand's freshwater environments to a healthy state within a generation.
"Catchment groups provide a valuable platform to promote good on-farm practices and sustainable land management, showcase innovation and success, and positively shift the dial for the environment," O'Connor said.
"Our investment will build on existing funding and see a second full-time coordinator employed."
The funding also enabled OCC to provide extra on-the-ground support, expert advice, online resources and technology for catchment groups to achieve their goals and targets, O'Connor said.
The Government's investment supports more than 170 farmer-led catchment groups across the country.
"Nationally, these groups provide on-the-ground support to more than 5000 farmers, helping them access expertise and tools to improve their environmental and economic sustainability, not to mention wellbeing," O'Connor said.
"I've had two trade trips this year and everywhere I have gone in our high-value markets, consumers and retailers are scrutinising sustainability credentials.
"The great work being done by farmers working together in catchment groups will keep us ahead of competitors, especially as opportunities like the UK FTA open up for us."
The Government's programme of investments to help farmers with sustainability formed a key part of positioning New Zealand in its Covid-19 recovery, O'Connor said.
Government investment in catchment groups in Otago
WAI Wānaka ($3m), North Otago Sustainable Land Management ($361,776), Lindis River Catchment ($771,724), Pomahaka Water Care Group ($531,517), Otago South River Care ($1.88m), East Otago Catchment Group ($1.98m) and Otago Catchment Community ($545,000).