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Dairy Industry Environmental Policies fall short

14 August 2001 Media Statement
Dairy Industry Environmental Policies fall short

New dairy industry environmental policies fall a long way short of improving the industry’s environmental performance, Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs, said today.

The policies, released last week by the Dairy Board, promote environmental and animal welfare guidelines that dairy farmers are urged to conform to.

Marian Hobbs says many of New Zealand’s waterways were in a poor state of health and urgent action was needed if significant improvement was to be made. The continuing use of traditional dairy farming methods and the rapid expansion of the industry in certain areas were contributing to the problem, she said.

“The dairy industry has taken a positive step by setting out the key environmental issues facing dairy farmers, and I agree that the industry must ensure that dairy farm practice does not undermine New Zealand’s positive environmental image.

“However, we need to see a continual improvement in dairy farm environmental performance. I am not convinced that the new policies are as stringent as they could be, or that they go far enough.

“Dairy farmers are currently receiving record payouts. What should have been a golden opportunity to promote environmental investment and to further New Zealand’s ‘clean and green’ image, has clearly been lost with these policies. I think the industry can do better.”

Marian Hobbs said that while she was encouraged by the industry’s goal to ‘maintain and enhance water quality in dairy catchments,’ action often speaks louder than words.

“Realistically, this will require some changes to traditional dairy farm practice. While the Dairy Board policies require farmers to control stock access to wetlands to avoid the destruction of native flora and fauna, unfortunately, this firm position on stock access is not applied to streams. I have to say I am disappointed.”

Simple changes could make a big difference, said Ms Hobbs. These could include putting in a single hot wire to prevent stock entering streams and providing culverts at stock crossing points.

Marian Hobbs said the Ministry for the Environment recently produced a comprehensive guide – Managing Waterways on Farms – to assist all farmers, not just dairy, to improve water quality of streams that run through their property.

“Clearly, many farmers have already protected their streams but such measures need to be adopted industry-wide – and soon.”


ENDS

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