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Call for action on nutrients management

Hon Jim Anderton
Minister of Agriculture
Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment

26 February 2008
Media Statement
Embargoed until 10am

Call for action on nutrients management

Current management of nutrient inputs and outputs at farm level is simply not enough to reverse decline in water quality, Environment Minister Trevor Mallard and Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

The levels of nutrients in our rivers have increased over the last two decades and agricultural land use has intensified at a rate greater than some of the sensitive catchments can handle.

Trevor Mallard today released the fourth progress report on the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord at Fonterra’s head office in Auckland. The Accord is an agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry for the Environment, Fonterra Co-operative Group and Local Government New Zealand. Signed in May 2003, it aims to achieve clean, healthy water in dairying areas, including streams, rivers, lakes, groundwater and wetlands.

"This report shows steady progress is being made towards the Accord’s targets in most areas. Some regions are performing really well, but others continue to let down the majority who are working hard to safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green image. This has got to change," said Trevor Mallard.

"The Environment New Zealand 2007 report and other recent data show that the quality of our fresh water is under increasing pressure from intensifying land use, particularly in rural areas.

"Water is one of our most important natural assets and protecting it is essential for our future development and our goal of becoming a sustainable nation. I challenge the dairy sector to take greater responsibility in managing nutrient inputs and outputs and ensure farmers comply with the effluent discharge regulations that are set out in the resource consents and regional plans."

"Ministers are pleased to see non-compliant farmers being penalised by local authorities and the courts and we urge more of it – that’s what the regulations are there for," Trevor Mallard said.

Jim Anderton said that while it was good most Fonterra farmers now had nutrient budgets in place, it was time to reach for the top of the nutrient management ladder, that is, an active nutrient management plan, as required by the accord.

"All New Zealand industries have to realise that the voluntary approach does not mean you have the luxury of doing nothing.

"If an industry wants to avoid regulation then it must take concerted action before the rest of the community demands government intervention. You also need to have a strategy to deal with free-riders who let the side down."

Later this year, accord partners will review the accord to assess opportunities for improvement and leverage off new initiatives, such as the Dairy Industry Strategy for Sustainable Environmental Management and the Sustainable Water Programme of Action.

"When this review is undertaken, the farming industry needs to know that ministers will in particular be focusing on how to secure far better compliance with regulations and environmental standards across all regions, with the support of accord partners," Jim Anderton said.

Trevor Mallard also signaled that the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, currently under development, would address some of these issues.

"While the accord is a good industry initiative, it does not and will not preclude our government developing national policies and regulatory instruments in areas considered as national priorities, such as safeguarding fresh water quality," said Trevor Mallard.

The Ministry for the Environment is consulting with stakeholders on National Environmental Standards (which will set regulations) and the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

The snapshot report is available at


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