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Show you care Fonterra - don’t pick up the milk

Show you care Fonterra - don’t pick up the milk

Green Media Release 26th February 2008

The Green Party is challenging Fonterra to back up its disappointment over the many milk suppliers who are still breaking the law and polluting waterways by refusing to pick up the milk from those recalcitrant polluters.

“We welcomed the Clean Streams Accord in May 2003 and we congratulate those farmers doing the right thing by the environment. But after nearly five years, it’s time for Fonterra to show some spine and simply tell their milk tankers not to stop at those farms which continue to illegally pollute our rivers and streams,” says Dr. Russel Norman, Green Co-leader and Environment Spokesperson.

Nationally, 7% of Fonterra suppliers have significant breaches of their resource consents and when farms in the Waikato were audited it was found that 30% of farms were seriously non-compliant. The Chairman of Fonterra's Sustainability Leadership Team, Barry Harris said today that this is ‘disappointing’.

“Fonterra already has all the power it needs to get its suppliers to obey environmental laws. If Fonterra decided to strongly enforce the clause in farmers’contracts that required them to obey their resource consents it would create a very strong incentive to obey the law.

“Another driver for change would be a national environmental standard on water quality. A national standard would even the playing field between all farmers. Currently the good farmers are carrying the cost while bad farmers freeload on them. Where is it?

“We welcome the announcement today that the Government is finally moving to establish a national environmental standard on measuring water takes. This is an essential first step and while it’s late, better late than never.

“While the Accord is a good first step, it has a number of weaknesses:
* Just because farmers have a nutrient budget doesn’t mean they are following it.
* Farmers outside Fonterra are not covered.
* The Accord requires fencing of streams but does not require fencing back with sufficient margin to enable riparian planting, and riparian planting is vital to filter out nutrients carried in groundwater ending up in streams.
* It only covers waterways wider than a stride and deeper than a gumboot, but many streams are smaller than this.
* 15% of Auckland farms independently audited did not exclude stock from waterways.
* 30% of Waikato farms seriously non-compliant.
* 14% of Otago farms inspected non-compliant.
* It cannot deal with the cumulative effect of the ongoing intensification of dairy across the country.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And the proof of the Accord working is in the drinking, and swimming and fishing. And we know that water quality standards are declining in many regions across the country so this Accord is not yet producing the goods. Fonterra needs to protect the reputation of the New Zealand dairy industry by cracking down on the polluters.”


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