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Dairy is Sustainable and with a big ‘S’ too

20 February 2013

Dairy is Sustainable and with a big ‘S’ too

On 31 May 2014, when Federated Farmers looks back on the 2013/14 season, 90 percent of New Zealand’s dairy cattle will have been excluded from waterways with 100 percent excluded from wetlands. By 2017, both figures will be 100 percent.

“We are close to 100 percent stock exclusion and I am proud of the progress dairy farmers have made,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson, speaking from Federated Farmers Dairy Council in Northland.

“The Sustainable Dairying Water Accord picks up on this fantastic achievement while bringing into account the irrigation and fertiliser sectors too. Federated Farmers is backing the fantastic work put in for farmers and the industry by DairyNZ; our industry good body.

“While the dairy industry has spoken with Iwi and groups like Fish & Game, the most important stakeholders are farmers. We are the ones who will make on-farm investments to translate the Accord into action.

“Given some of the negative comments I have seen, my challenge to the mainstream media is to talk to real dairy farmers. Federated Farmers is very happy to make this happen given I am with around sixty dairy farmers right now.

“As most dairy farmers are good people who care for the land we farm and the water we use, the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord will help us to lift the few underperformers we have left.

“Those voicing criticism of dairy farmers forget that our farms are not just where we work, but are where our kids and families live too.

“Perhaps one danger we have is creating the impression it is all down to dairy. It isn’t. We need councils to step up and improve wastewater plants struggling to meet the demands of 1.6 million households and almost 500,000 businesses.

“Given urban wastewater mostly ends up in rivers or the sea, we need the whole community to take ownership rather than just one part of it.

“That includes our colleagues who farm extensively.

“They need to get on top of erosion that sees sediments and nutrients lost to water. They need to be also aware that in 2017, the Accord is being extended to dairy support properties too.

“We also need other types of intensive farmers to look at Accord structures like what the dairy industry has unveiled today. We are only one part of the much larger primary industries.

“Yet if we can get the whole community on-side a Lake Rotorua is the result.

“Lake Rotorua’s improvement was in part due to farmers fencing and planting. This was dairy and drystock aided by expert advice from the likes of DairyNZ. The Lake’s improvement was in part due to councils getting on top of sewerage and partly due to the whole community taking ownership. It was due to every one.

“Despite the ‘doubting Thomases’ who have piped up again today, Lake Rotorua actually improved beyond targets set for it last year. Targets that experts thought would take decades to achieve.

“Better water is a community team effort. No one can do it individually but today, with the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord, dairy has firmly put its arm up to be part of the solution,” Mr Leferink concluded.


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