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Dairy polluters still a problem a decade on

Dairy polluters still a problem a decade on

Wellington, 20 February 2013 - Independent nature conservation group Forest & Bird is disappointed at the number of dairy farmers still seriously mistreating waterways after a decade of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord.

Forest & Bird Advocacy Manager Kevin Hackwell says the accord’s latest snapshot shows 11 per cent of all dairy farmers are seriously breaching their effluent rules and consent conditions. “Northland is of particular concern because more than one-quarter of the region’s 1000 dairy farmers seriously breached the rules last year. Northland has consistently failed to live up to the accord’s hopes of improving water quality and farm management.”

Forest & Bird is pleased that dairy farmers in other regions are improving. “For example, in the Manawatu, the proportion of dairy farmers seriously breaching rules dropped from 14 per cent to 7 per cent in the latest report,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“Overall, it’s also disappointing that just 56 per cent of dairy farmers have reached the 2007 target that all farms would have nutrient management plans in place. That’s not only bad news for our waterways, it’s also bad news for farm productivity as fertiliser is wasted.”

This is the final report from the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, which was launched in 2003. Kevin Hackwell says in the early years Forest & Bird and Fish and Game had to work hard to get the accord taken seriously by the accord parties.

“When the effort was finally made to improve performance against the accord’s targets, it proved much more difficult to get on-farm changes than people anticipated,” Kevin Hackwell says. “Fonterra has only recently changed its supply agreements to penalise consistently poor performing famers in serious non-compliance with the rules.

“Forest & Bird hopes the accord’s lessons will be carried on to the new accord, which will include all milk suppliers, not just Fonterra. The key lessons are the need for all actions to be focussed on improvements in water quality, for an independent audit of whether targets are being met, the need for direct help for farmers to improve their practices, and a way of dealing with consistently poor performers that is applied across the sector.”

ENDS

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