Dairy industry leaders have put farmers on notice to lift their game after a damning report showed many have substandard effluent management systems. Fonterra announced yesterday that from next season it will visit every supplier's farm each year to inspect dairy-effluent systems. The company has demanded higher compliance with the regulations, with threatening fines and the refusal to collect milk from repeat offenders reports The ODT.
The latest Clean Streams Accord data, gathered by regional councils, shows the number of farmers around New Zealand adhering to council dairy-effluent discharge consents has slipped from 64% in 2007-08 to 60% in 2008-09. "That's a level that whilst we do not like it, you have got to say it's not a bad level. It's one of the best in the country."
Significant non-compliance nationally rose from 12% to 15%, with Northland the poorest performer at 27%, followed by Auckland (23%), Waikato (20%) and Canterbury (19%). "Minor non-compliance" breaches in Otago, which do not result in infringement or abatement notices, rose from 10% to 20%.
Otago Federated Farmers chairman and dairy farmer Mike Lord welcomed Fonterra's tougher stance, saying he believed it had the support of shareholders. "By and large, most farmers care about the impact they have on the environment and there is no doubt about it, they can do better and will do better."
The national level of non-compliance with dairy-effluent consents has been condemned by Agriculture Minister David Carter, the Fonterra Shareholders Council, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers. Mr Carter was particularly scathing.