Farmers Make Good Progress Toward Clean Streams
12 March 2009
Farmers Make Good Progress Toward Clean Streams Accord Targets
The latest results from the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord for the 2007/08 season showed a slight improvement in the overall level of significant non-compliance with Regional Council dairy effluent rules, along with a rise in the level of full compliance.
Solid progress by New Zealand’s dairy farmers towards the Clean Streams Accord’s other four targets was made during the period, with those targets being exceeded in most regions throughout the country.
“Dairy farmers throughout the country have made ongoing, incremental improvements in their on-farm environmental management, and this latest snapshot of progress bears that out,” said Barry Harris, the Chairman of Fonterra’s Sustainability Leadership Team. “We’re seeing much higher levels of farmer awareness and action toward environmental best practice throughout the country.”
Results from the six-year-old Accord’s annual snapshot of progress were announced by Minister for Agriculture, David Carter, at the Beehive this morning. The Accord -- a voluntary partnership between Fonterra, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry and Regional Councils/Local Government New Zealand – aims to help improve rural water quality in dairy catchments.
Dairy cattle have been excluded from 78 per cent of the rivers, lakes and streams on farms that meet the Accord definition, and the 2012 target of 90 per cent exclusion has already been met in Otago and Southland. Some 97 percent of regular race crossing points now have bridges or culverts.
Almost 99 per cent of Fonterra farmers have in place a nutrient budget, just short of the 100 per cent target, but higher than the one in five farms that had a budget one year into the Accord’s inception.
Progress against the wetland target was not included because of regional differences in identifying “regionally significant” wetlands. Fonterra is continuing to communicate to farmers that all stock should be excluded from all wetlands that are likely to be deemed significant.
Fonterra has been working with Regional Councils throughout New Zealand to achieve greater consistency in their approaches to compliance monitoring and their definitions of what constitutes “non-compliance”. The reporting period was the first time a standardised system between councils for the reporting of dairy effluent compliance was used, providing a better opportunity to compare regional results.
In the area of effluent management, full compliance with Regional Council regulations rose to 70 per cent during the season, compared with 68 per cent in the year-earlier period. The overall level of significant non-compliance was at 11 per cent from 2006/07’s 12 per cent. But those levels are still well short of the 100 per cent compliance target the Accord outlines for dairy farm effluent discharge.
“Most of our farmers, despite complex rules and changing expectations, have made excellent progress in establishing robust effluent management systems,” said Mr Harris. “But others are experiencing difficulties in complying with Regional Council regulations and that level of non-compliance remains much too high.
“We have to recognise that these farmers are very much in the minority, but they are spoiling it for the majority of our farmers and we have to make a renewed effort to help them lift their environmental performance.
Last week Fonterra announced the introduction of new measures to assist non-complying farmers. The new system is designed to drive further progress toward full compliance with effluent management regulations and has the explicit goal of cutting significant non-compliance by 50 per cent by August 2011.
Mr Harris added that while the Accord has been instrumental in changing farmer attitudes and improving on-farm environmental performance, it is only one component of a raft of initiatives Fonterra has implemented over the past few years to reduce dairying’s environmental footprint.
Other examples include:
The release, in coming weeks, of independent research into the carbon footprint of five of Fonterra’s major products.
Fonterra’s Energy Reduction Project, likely the largest such programme in New Zealand’s industrial sector, saves 1.8 petajoules (power equivalent to that supplied to Hamilton for a year) annually, as well as 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. Fonterra aims to increase this to 230,000 tonnes per annum by the 2008/09 season.
An eco-efficiency programme, running across Fonterra’s New Zealand manufacturing sites since 2003, has cut manufacturing waste sent to landfill by 75 per cent. That level is targeted to rise to 90 per cent by June this year.
A 20-year agreement with Toll New Zealand to make rail the main method of transporting dairy products from the Waikato region will cut 45,000 truck movements and save approximately 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
The Accord’s mid-term stocktake report, which looks at the range of environmental initiatives relevant to the dairy industry, found that there are a large number of environmental measures in operation relating to dairy and that the Accord is only a small part of the overall approach the industry, along with regulators, are taking to manage the environmental impacts of dairying.
‘While the Accord is the highest profile of these industry initiatives, in many ways it represents only a very small part of the overall approach that industry and regulators are taking to manage the environment impacts of dairying,” said the report, which was compiled by resource economists, Harris Consulting.
For example, Fonterra continues to work with Regional Councils on the implementation of Regional Action Plans (RAPs); the company also works with DairyNZ and the fertilizer industry to move farmers toward full nutrient management plans and is a member of the Primary Sector Water Partnership, a group which is working toward the achievement of pan-sectoral targets in water management.
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The Accord sets our five targets for farmers to meet by 2007 and 2012.
1. Dairy cattle to be excluded from 50 per cent of streams, rives and lakes by 2007, rising to 90 per cent by 2012.
2. Fifty per cent of regular crossing points to have bridges or culverts by 2007, rising to 90 per cent by 2012.
3. One hundred per cent of dairy farm effluent discharges to comply with resource consents and regional plans immediately.
4. One hundred per cent of dairy farms to have in place systems to manage nutrient inputs and outputs by 2007.
5. Fifty per cent of regionally significant wetlands to be fenced by 2005, rising to 90 per cent by 2007
A copy of Clean Streams Accord 2007/08 Snapshot of progress report, along with the Mid-term stocktake report, is available at:
* Fonterra is the world’s largest dairy exporter, with annual revenues of about NZ$17 billion*.
* As New Zealand’s largest and truly multinational business, Fonterra trades in 140 countries.
* Our portfolio includes dairy ingredients, liquid and powdered milks, cultured foods and yoghurts, butter, cheese and specialty foodservices products.
* Our brands include Anchor, Anlene, Anmum, Fresh n’ Fruity, Mainland, Peters, Brownes, Tip Top, and Chesdale.
* Fonterra reported revenues of NZ$19.5 billion for 14 months ended 31 July 2008.