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Dairy farm compliance and water breakthroughs

19 August 2013

Dairy farm compliance and water breakthroughs

Figures obtained by the Dominion Post show a significant fall in the number of dairy farmers receiving infringement and abatement notices. This follows hard on the heels of the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) reporting in 90 percent of monitored sites, water quality over 2000-2010, was either stable or showed improvement.

“The numbers from the Dominion Post tell the full story and that is one of marked improvement,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“While the Dominion Post has singled out dairy farming over the past five seasons, we are buoyed to see the number of abatement notices almost halve while infringement notices have more than halved.

“This is nothing short of good news and reflects the recent MfE decade long summary of water quality. This summary found that over 2000-2010, water quality in 90 percent of New Zealand’s monitored water sites was either stable or improving.

“Given the past decade saw major land use change, factual research, instead of assumption, tells us the dairy industry has made environmental progress. Now we see the number of abatement notices falling from 537 in 2008/9 to 290 in 2012/13. Infringement notices also fell from 500 to 221 over the same period.

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“Even compared to last year, infringements and abatements are substantially down, being in the 200’s for the first time. Over the same time period the numbers of dairy cattle have increased, so, on a head of stock basis, the fall in abatements and infringements is cause for celebration.

“The Dominion Post found 34 farmers were prosecuted in 2012/13 and while that is up on 2011/12, it is way down on the 49 prosecuted in 2008/9. Given the sharp drop in infringements and abatements being issued, this tells us the Courts are now showing much less tolerance.

“One thing that did surprise me about the Dominion Post’s coverage was its negative tone. If this result was instead for crime it would have been hailed as nothing short of a miracle.

“The MfE water quality summary and these statistics tell us that the vast majority of the dairy industry is putting the ambulance at the top of the cliff. Not only that but it is working.

“This is affirmation for dairy companies getting out on-farm and working with the farmers who supply them, as well as the clean streams accord and its successor, the new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

“I need to point out that dairying must not be read in isolation from other sectors or industries. It seems ironic that we seem to know more about the environmental performance of 12,000 dairy herds as opposed to our 67 territorial authorities.

“To go forward we all need to pull together but these figures show that the vast majority of farmers are doing the right thing and heading in the right direction,” Mr Wills concluded.

2008/9 to 2012/13 Table:

YearAbatement noticesInfringement noticesProsecutions# $finesNOTE
2008/0953750049$607,626.00 Doesn’t include all of Otago RC fines


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