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Good Dairy Farmers Must Be Praised

19 March 2010

NEW ZEALAND - The latest results for the Clean Streams Accord (2008/09), present a challenge to the New Zealand dairy industry. While the focus will be on the negative, the industry’s openness and accountability is a much bigger positive.

“Like most farmers, I’m really disappointed at the rise in serious non-compliance from 12 to 15 per cent,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“Yet while our news is disappointing, the dairy industry is fronting it publicly. Disclosing our environmental footprint, good or bad, is all about being open and accountable because our performance is out there for all to see.

“Wouldn’t it be encouraging, for once, if the vast majority of dairy farmers actually got positive reinforcement for the big strides we’ve made. Farmers may have a right to farm but the good ones, the majority, swear by their environmental obligations.

“We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that 85 per cent of New Zealand’s dairy farmers are either fully compliant or guilty of no more than an administrative breach. This report really highlights need for greater consistency with the way farms are inspected.

“To take the dairy industry forward, Fonterra, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers want to work with regional councils to develop what may resemble a dairy farm ‘warrant of fitness’ (WoF).

“The concept is just like that for a car WoF. It’s about setting consistent standards and methodologies that take into account regional variations in soil, climate and topography. You would never test vehicles the way our dairy farms are currently tested.

“Fonterra Cooperative Group is investing heavily to double its resources to work one-on-one with farmers about improving farm scale environmental management. “The dairy industry has also just completed draft standards around effluent systems and storage. This is to give farmers the confidence they need to make substantial capital investments into effluent systems that will perform as promised.

“Investing more in our people will make a real difference on the ground too. The Agriculture Industry Training Organisation is further delivering specific training in effluent management to boost the skills of farm staff and management.

“While the report shows that the vast majority of farmers are soundly managing their farm environment, others may adopt new technologies coming into the market. It’s about horses for courses.

“Clearly we have some very big challenges ahead of us but at least we’re aware of them and in an effort to take the entire industry forward, we’re working with our industry partners to address them,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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