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Environment Canterbury welcomes Sustainable Dairy Accord

February 20, 2013

Environment Canterbury welcomes Sustainable Dairying Water Accord

Environment Canterbury welcomes the announcement today of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord which replaces the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord that was initially set up in 2003 and expired at the end of last year.

“We are supporting in principle the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord and our Council has agreed Environment Canterbury is to become a ‘friend of the accord’,” said Kim Drummond, Environment Canterbury’s Director Resource Management.

“The new accord aligns well with our approach in recent years, which has been to work with the dairy industry and farmers to improve on-farm practices with a focus on improving environmental performance.

“This work has included a joint industry-council programme in Canterbury to improve understanding and encourage good practice among farmers and farm workers dealing with dairy effluent.”

In the most recent full season (2011-12) seventy per cent of Canterbury’s 977 dairy farms were fully compliant with the effluent discharge consent conditions, a figure which has steadily improved from the 43.2% full compliance recorded in the 2008-2009 season.

“Environment Canterbury’s proposed Land & Water Regional Plan also sets new rules specifically to protect and enhance the region’s fresh water, aligning with the community’s aspirations set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy.

“Many of the rules in the proposed Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan are already more detailed and require a higher level of environmental compliance for farmers than in either Accord,” said Kim Drummond.

“However, we acknowledge that the new Sustainable Dairying Water Accord seeks to make progress in a number of related areas and we are very supportive of collective action.”

Excluding stock from waterways and nutrient management are also important parts of improving environmental performance on dairy farms.

In Canterbury rules to exclude intensively farm stock from waterways came into effect in mid-2011 with additional rules in mid-2012. Around 90% of Canterbury’s dairy farms fully exclude stock from waterways, according to the Accord Snapshot.

Under the proposed Land & Water Regional Plan all farmers will also be expected to achieve industry good practice for nutrient management based on nitrogen loss targets. The proposed Plan already requires farmers to begin recording nutrient loses.

It is also proposed that any changes in land use resulting in either an increase in the volume of water for irrigation, or an increase of more than 10% in nitrogen losses, will need resource consent. Additional rules are expected to come in to force in July 2017.

About dairy effluent compliance in Canterbury
Environment Canterbury compliance officers visited each of the region’s 977 dairy farms at least once between July 2011 and May 2012.

In 2008 Environment Canterbury initiated a meeting with industry partners, Fish & Game and Forest & Bird, to discuss ways to improve dairy effluent compliance.

As a result the Canterbury Dairy Effluent Group was set up and has been working collaboratively since then to improve dairy effluent compliance and environmental performance on dairy farms. The yearly compliance monitoring results provide one means on assessing the effectiveness of the group’s approach.

The group is developing a range of initiatives such as working more closely with effluent system suppliers, improved training for dairy farm staff, attending farmer events to demonstrate how to avoid non-compliance, direct communication to farmers about compliance issues, an advertising campaign promoting good dairy effluent practice, as well as reviewing consenting requirements and compliance methods.

The outcomes should be improved farmer understanding of what they need to do to comply with their dairy effluent consents, farmers taking steps to ensure they do comply, better environmental outcomes in alignment with the Dairy and Clean Streams Accord and the new Sustainable Dairying Water Accord, as well as reduced levels of non-compliance.

The industry partners are dairy companies Fonterra and Synlait, industry groups DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, as well as the South Island Dairying Development Centre and AgITO.

ENDS

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