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90.3% of Canterbury dairy farms not harming the environment

90.3 percent of Canterbury dairy farms not harming the environment

Federated Farmers is celebrating a much improved working relationship with Environment Canterbury, which sees 90.3 percent of the region's dairy farms not harming the environment.

"The 2010/11 monitoring is a pleasing result for our Canterbury members. It is welcome good news given events near where I farm with the Rena," says Robin Barkla, Federated Farmers Vice-President and a Whakatane dairy farmer.

"The Rena highlights just how destructive direct pollution to water is. In contrast, our three Canterbury provinces have worked closely with Environment Canterbury, Fonterra and DairyNZ to lift the environmental performance of Canterbury's dairy farmers.

"It says a lot that yesterday well over 200 dairy farmers were at the Lincoln dairy fielday. Environment Canterbury not only announced the 2010/11 results but were openly discussing with farmers how to better manage effluent.

"The large numbers attending tell me these are farmers looking for a better way. The three Canterbury dairy chairs all feel that the days of 'them' and 'us' are gone and on that score, Federated Farmers couldn't be happier.

"With 99.56 percent of Canterbury's 921 dairy farms being randomly inspected last season, this is a comprehensive environmental picture. Not only that, but these inspections are carried out under user-pays principals.

"I'd like to think that environmental transparency is a good thing. What these results tells me is that 90.3 percent of Canterbury's dairy farms did not pose a threat to the environment last season.

"It's satisfying to see 65 percent of dairy farms fully compliant, but you also need to take into account the rate of minor non-compliance. Although minor non-compliance is a breach, it is a technical one posing no environmental risk. Usually, it relates to things like paper work.

"Even then, the rate of minor non-compliance has fallen while full compliance has grown. Minor non-compliance is still a focus area for all farmers because it means keeping our paper work in good order.

"Federated Farmers main focus has always been on the rate of significant non-compliance. That is where environmental harm comes from. While the rate has crept up slightly, the fact is our Canterbury members are light years away from the season when one in five were significantly non-compliant. Those days are gone.

"Modern dairy farming is hugely complex and Canterbury's 921 dairy farms operate under 10,137 consent conditions. The sterling result is that 9,630 consent conditions are fully complied with," Mr Barkla concluded.

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