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Fonterra must explain self-reporting inaccuracy

13 December 2011

Fonterra must explain self-reporting inaccuracy

Fonterra needs to explain the vast discrepancy between claims made today about the success of the Clean Stream Accord and the findings of an independent review commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) said Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman.

The Clean Streams Accord’s Snapshot of Progress claims that 84 percent of Fonterra dairy farms have fully fenced off all Accord-type waterways. However a technical report by MAF, also released today, reports that just 42 percent of farms had achieved complete stock exclusion from Accord waterways.

“The Clean Streams Accord progress report claims an increase in the proportion of dairy farms that have fenced off all Accord-type waterways, whereas an independent report released by MAF paints a significantly different picture. They both can’t be right,” said Dr Norman.

“The reality is that only half the number of farms that Fonterra claims have fenced off all Accord-waterways have actually done so. The report is 50 percent out.

“The MAF report throws the entire Snapshot for Progress report into doubt, as well as the figures reported in previous years.

“This highlights a real problem with the industry self-reporting approach that the Clean Streams Accord relies on, and throws the credibility of Fonterra’s reporting into doubt.

“Under the Clean Streams Accord waterway fencing figures are provided by farmers in a voluntary survey. Today’s independent report from MAF highlights the drawbacks of such an approach.

“The Clean Streams Accord expires next year. Today’s discrepancies in reported figures send a clear message to the government that we need independent monitoring of environmental progress in the dairy industry.

“It also highlights the need for stronger regulation. If we can’t rely on voluntary reporting, how can we rely on voluntary action to ensure clean streams and waterways.

“The majority of dairy farmers have been taking positive steps towards implementing the accord. It is a shame their efforts are being undermined by questionable self-reporting approaches.

“It is time to for stronger rules and independent and accurate reporting we can trust on this critical environmental issue.”

Link to the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord Snapshot of Progress 2010/11

Stock Exclusion Survey: MAF Technical Paper No: 2011/102

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