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More Needs To Be Done In Canterbury


26 NOVEMBER 2008

Dairying And Environmental Groups Say More Needs To Be Done In Canterbury

Both the dairy industry and environmental groups acknowledge the findings of the Environment Canterbury report on disposal of dairy shed effluent and say much more action is needed from farmers, industry bodies and the regional council.

The report is for the 2007/08 dairying season, which ended on 31 May 2008.

“Compliance with regional council regulations around disposal of farm dairy effluent is a bottom line for the industry. Although overall compliance in Canterbury has increased, the fact that the report shows no real progress in reducing levels of non-compliance over the last five seasons is a major concern for us,” said DairyNZ Chief Executive Dr Tim Mackle.

Fish and Game’s Nelson Marlborough Manager Neil Deans said, “The report says there are a number of farms that are performing very well, but 37 per cent of those farms that were identified as significantly non-compliant still hadn’t addressed their issues by the end of the season (7.4% of all dairy farms). Compliance with consents is a fundamental requirement to conduct any business, and the fact that non-compliance problems are being identified but some farmers aren’t remedying those problems is of major concern and exposed shortcomings in current processes.”

“Rates of serious non-compliance have increased since last year and this is of real concern to Forest & Bird. At a meeting held at Environment Canterbury last week, there was agreement that all groups should be working together to achieve improvements in the region’s water quality,” Forest & Bird Advocacy manager, Kevin Hackwell said.

Dr Mackle said the dairy industry, along with Fish and Game and the Forest & Bird, supports Environment Canterbury’s plan to make greater use of enforcement tools and increase monitoring in its aim to achieve full compliance.

“It’s good to see Environment Canterbury acknowledging the work done by the dairy industry to help farmers achieve compliance, and the report says results from this work have not yet been measured by the Council,” he said.

“The industry is working hard with farmers to help them improve their infrastructure and management techniques. This includes contacting those who had compliance issues and providing information and on-farm assistance. Significant non-compliers had either agricultural engineering support or help from a Fonterra sustainable dairying advisor.”

Dr Mackle said the full results of this work will not be reported on until this time next year. “In fact, we are actually increasing activity, with Fonterra hiring another sustainable dairying advisor for the region and the rolling out the DairyNZ Farm Enviro Walk, which helps farmers identify potential problem areas.

“There are some encouraging trends emerging, including the reduction in the incidence of major effluent ponding, which shows farm staff are aware of the need to check this. Plus the report notes that when compared nationally, Canterbury still has a low level of direct discharge to surface water occurring.”

He said ponding is clearly the main issue and the dairy industry is working closely with scientists and service providers to deliver technology, systems and solutions to resolve this.

Neil Deans said the environmental groups are particularly concerned about water quality. “This report doesn’t cover water quality and we look forward to working with the dairy sector, farmer organisations, and Environment Canterbury to deal with any issues identified in the regional State of the Environment report to be issued in December.

“Environmental groups and the dairy sector must find enduring solutions to ensure that dairy farming is environmentally sustainable. It’s in all of our best interests to work together on this,” he said.


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