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Tougher stance on dairy shed standards

Tuesday 14 June, 2005

Tougher stance on dairy shed standards

Bay of Plenty dairy farmers are being hit where it hurts – in the pocket – if they don’t meet environmental standards for dealing with dairy shed effluent.

Environment Bay of Plenty, with the support of Federated Farmers, has taken a tougher stance over the past year. A report to the Regulation and Monitoring Committee meeting on Tuesday 7 June showed the regional council fined twice as many farmers (16) for serious non-compliance last season and is prosecuting two more. It also served 34 abatement notices giving formal warning that upgrade work was needed.

“Many farmers are working hard to make the grade, and the overall results reflect this. However, it is a real concern to find so many incidents that could well have resulted in serious environmental damage,” says chairman Ian Noble. “We can’t afford to be complacent.”

Mr Noble says Lake Rerewhakaaitu farmers had “shown the way” by achieving a 100% compliance rating for the second year in a row. However, while compliance rates had remained constant or improved in some areas, they had fallen in the western Bay of Plenty.

Environment Bay of Plenty and Federated Farmers have been working closely together to improve performance levels. As a result, compliance lifted considerably in the 2003-2004 season.

Robin Barkla, chairman of the dairy section of Bay of Plenty Federated Farmers, says his organisation fully supports a hard line being taken for serious offences. Federated Farmers members would also be putting pressure on offenders to improve their performance, he says. “We’re a bit disappointed with last season’s results. We set targets and hit one or two but fell short in others. We’d like to see the results improve this season.”

Environment Bay of Plenty checked 471 dairy farms last season, more than half the farms in the region. Principal compliance officer Steve Pickles told the meeting the overall compliance level at first visit was 88%, a good result. However, there were too many cases of serious non-compliance, which put the environment at risk, he says. “And that is very disappointing.”

Mr Pickles urged farmers to contact an Environment Bay of Plenty compliance officer if they had any concerns about their effluent systems or were considering an upgrade of their current system.


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