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Improved farm practices win praise

Improved farm practices win praise

Dairy farmers are making significant progress in implementing farm practices to improve water quality in New Zealand's freshwater rivers and streams, a new report shows.

Agriculture and Forestry Minister Jim Anderton and Minister for the Environment David Benson-Pope today released a progress report outlining results from the second year of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord.

The Accord, introduced in 2004, is a partnership between Fonterra, regional councils and central government to improve water quality in areas where Fonterra shareholders farm. It sets targets for farmers to exclude dairy cattle from streams, rivers and lakes; build bridges or culverts for regular crossing-points; comply with resource consents for the discharge of effluent; have in place nutrient management plans; and fence regionally significant wetlands.

The report shows 72 per cent of dairy farms now exclude stock from their waterways - exceeding the 50 percent target set for 2007. In addition, 93 per cent of farmers have bridged or culverted waterway crossings regularly used by stock, again in excess of the 2007 target of 50 percent.

However, it noted that progress against the nutrient management target had been slower, with just 19 per cent of farmers currently having systems in place to manage nutrients. Fonterra is now focusing more on this target.

"The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord continues to demonstrate the success of an industry-led approach to deal with environmental issues," said Mr Anderton.

Mr Benson-Pope said the Accord is an excellent example of the kind of partnerships supported by government through the Sustainable Water Programme of Action, which was released last month.

Under a new monitoring and reporting strategy, the Ministry for the Environment, will now lead measuring and monitoring of the environmental benefits of the Accord's targets, with the help of regional councils.

The success of the Accord has recently been recognised by the wider dairy industry, with the inclusion of Accord targets in Dairy Insight's Industry Strategy for Sustainable Environmental Management. This strategy places a special emphasis on nutrient management as a primary focus for industry investment.

The report Snapshot of Progress 2004/2005 is available on www.mfe.govt.nz or www.maf.govt.nz


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