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Cleaner waterways achievable through partnership

MEDIA RELEASE
Cleaner waterways achievable through partnership
For immediate release on Thursday 12 March

“Cleaning up New Zealand’s waterways from the impacts of dairy farming is achievable if all parties take an active role, have accurate monitoring and are committed to making the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord work,” said Local Government New Zealand National Council spokesperson Stephen Cairns.

Mr Cairns addressed industry partners at the launch of the Accord’s 2007/08 snapshot report, which showed that full compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was 70 percent, up from 68 percent the previous season.

The Accord is a voluntary partnership between Fonterra, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Local Government New Zealand on behalf of regional councils.

“The Accord’s strength, as an industry-regulated initiative, is to put the onus on dairy farmers to be more accountable for reducing their impact on New Zealand’s waterways and environment.

“Self-management is a critical element to achieving environmental benefits rather than relying solely on rules imposed by regulatory agencies.

“While the Accord will never be the only solution, its value is to encourage sustainable farming techniques, encourage farm improvements and to raise awareness.

“As dairy farmers become more educated about the advantages of environmentally-friendly dairying, New Zealand will reap the benefits of better environmental outcomes,” said Mr Cairns.

As a signatory to the Accord, Local Government New Zealand supports Fonterra’s efforts to ensure its supplying farms comply with the targets.

“Regional councils value the leadership that a major industry leader like Fonterra provides in helping farmers to lessen their impact on New Zealand’s natural resources.

“Fonterra’s recent launch of its Effluent Improvement System is a positive measure that will go some way to achieving cleaner waterways by cutting non-compliance of its farmer shareholders by 50 per cent by August 2011.

“The small minority of non-complying farmers that breach regional council regulations continue to let the majority of the dairy industry down.

“A system that supports prior regulatory action and equally penalises non-compliance through a milk payout deduction system may be the wake up call these farmers need. However, it’s good to see that farmers needing support will be offered advice under this system.

“Regional councils will work with the industry to ensure the Accord fully achieves what it set out to do. Public concern about non-complying dairy farmers should not be underestimated.

“Communities expect regional councils to monitor rules and enforce compliance from dairy farmers, and regional councils have had to move into a more regimented enforcement regime,” said Mr Cairns.

Successful implementation of the Accord relies on 100% of dairy farmers following regional councils’ Regional Action Plans (RAP). Eighty-two percent of regional councils (by number of dairy farms) intend to carry out a formal review of their RAP.

“We acknowledge the role Fonterra will play in the review and active implementation of the Regional Action Plans.

“Another critical role for regional councils is accurately reporting on compliance with resource consents and regional plans throughout the country.

“To address variabilities in reporting, regional councils have been developing criteria for assessing compliance grades with regional plans and resource consents. This involves an auditing process to improve the consistency of applying the criteria across regions.

“With a solid commitment from regional councils and Fonterra to continue addressing the varying impacts of dairy farming on water quantity and quality, we will see real and long-lasting benefits to New Zealand’s natural resources,” said Mr Cairns.

Local Government New Zealand is the national voice of councils in New Zealand.

ENDS

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