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Dairy farming turning a corner in report

27 NOVEMBER 2008

Dairy farming turning a corner in Environment Canterbury report

Federated Farmers has welcomed release of The compliance status of dairy shed effluent discharges to land in the Canterbury region for the 2007/08 season, by Environment Canterbury (ECan). The report proved that Canterbury’s dairy farmers were receptive to public scrutiny and improvements in farm practice.

“The key for us in the 2007/08 report is that 80% of farmers are now either fully compliant or on the road to full compliance. Being open about how we are performing is positive as it builds public trust in dairy farming,” said Federated Farmers Dairy Mid-Canterbury chairman, Dean McConnell.

“The number of farms being graded fully compliant in the past season has jumped considerably by 15.6%. That’s good news and those farmers deserve a pat on the back for taking their environmental responsibilities seriously.

“The contribution of Fonterra in the field of sustainability is very important and they are bolstering this with extra resources. DairyNZ’s farm envirowalk’s show that together with Federated Farmers and ECan, farmers are taking a lead. That is now bearing fruit with the huge uplift in fully compliant dairy farms over the past year.”

Federated Farmers was naturally disappointed that the number of farms reported with ‘significant non-compliance’ had increased slightly from the previous year. Environment Canterbury (ECan) acknowledged this slight increase was likely due to their officers escalating minor non-compliance issues, to significant non-compliance, where an ongoing issue or repeat offence had not been resolved when initially requested. Federated Farmers also questioned why a large number of farms, 51 in total, had not been reinspected by ECan officers. If they had, it was possible the number of farms in the ‘significant non-compliance’ category might have been reduced, as farmers improved their performance.

“All ECan inspections are on a user pays basis. We know from ECan that the majority of farms previously categorised as being in ‘significant non-compliance’ were fully compliant when reinspected. The failure to recheck these 51 farms is a lost opportunity as it may over report the number of farms in this category.

“It is important to state that ECan has Federated Farmers full support in prosecuting direct discharges to water. Modern dairy has no place for wilful polluters.

Federated Farmers also pointed towards an improving water quality picture in Canterbury. During a Radio New Zealand interview on 21 November, about improving water quality monitored by ECan, Mark Oldfield, Chair of the ECan’s Water Quality, Quantity and Ecosystems Portfolio Committee said, ‘This is a huge effort from community groups and individuals, whether it be the dairy accord or Iwi or schools. There’s willingness from my observation of attending meetings for everyone to do the right thing. After all for the farmers in particular, it’s the environment they live in and their working environment, their home, also their recreational environment and an asset to their farm in most instances.’


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