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Council says some dairy farmers determined not to accept stewardship responsibilities to farm in ways that are compliant with Otago’s most basic and most important waterway protection rules

Council says some dairy farmers determined not to accept stewardship responsibilities to farm in ways that are compliant with Otago’s most basic and most important waterway protection rules

Media release by Otago Regional Council

Recent Otago Regional Council (ORC) dairy farm inspections have found disturbing examples of non-compliance with the Otago Water Plan prohibited activity rules.

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said recent inspections in South Otago had found a number of instances of ponding and effluent runoff into waterways.

“This is an extremely disappointing result, especially coming after the recent round of water quality roadshows attended by over 1200 farmers, and associated public information making it clear what the new water quality rules require of farmers”, Mr Bodeker said.

“We have over many years advised farmers that council would not tolerate breaches of the effluent related prohibited activity rules,” he said.

Prohibited activities were land-based operations that can grossly degrade waterways.

“It appears there are some dairy farmers who are determined not to accept the stewardship responsibilities they have to farm in ways that are compliant with Otago’s most basic and most important waterway protection rules,” Mr Bodeker said.

At the very least, all dairy farms in Otago should have sufficient effluent storage, and all effluent irrigators should have safety systems fitted, he said.

ORC is moving to a new risk-based system of dairy farm inspections as part of the implementation of new water quality rules. Using this approach, farms that have not implemented sound practices can expect frequent inspections and stringent enforcement action. Additional inspections will also be made to farms in areas where water quality is degraded.

“The technology is there to ensure that effluent does not pond and runoff to waterways. It is up to farmers to obtain it, put it in, train staff to use it, and maintain it in good working order,” Mr Bodeker said.

“It is not acceptable for any farmer to wantonly pollute Otago’s waterways through neglect or mismanagement,” he said.

When dairy farmers reduce their environmental risks through improvements in infrastructure, the frequency of inspections by ORC staff will decrease.

However, if they continued to breach the Water Plan rules and degrade Otago’s waterways, they would end up spending money on court fines that would be much better spent on good farm infrastructure, Mr Bodeker said.

“Our objectives are to have every farm compliant with the new water quality rules, and to ensure good water quality in our rivers, streams, and lakes is maintained. Where water is degraded we expect it to gradually improve to meet the schedule 15 and 16 contaminant discharge standards in the Water Plan.”

This goal was endorsed by the community and industry stakeholders throughout the Plan Change 6A consultation and mediation processes.

“We cannot meet these agreed goals without farmers adopting good practices,’’ Mr Bodeker said.

Examples of this included: installing sufficient effluent storage systems, installing effluent irrigator safety systems (electronic sensor warning systems in the event of irrigator failure - e.g. hose disconnecting from the travelling irrigator on the irrigator systems), and upgrading to low-rate effluent irrigation systems in areas where effluent application is at times risky.

“Those farmers not willing to take these steps are letting the industry and their local communities down,” Mr Bodeker said.

ORC would use all the means at its disposal, including prosecutions, to convince them it was time to move to better ways of operating, he said.


This is what Federated Farmers had to say about this ORC statement:

Farmers need to take council findings on the chin  

Federated Farmers is saddened by Otago Regional Council inspection results and believes farmers risk compounding a bad payout season unless they seek information and help on what their obligations are under the Council’s water quality rules (Plan Change 6A).

“We are way too early in the inspection run to have this sort of bad news,” Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president and himself a South Otago dairy farmer said.

“We’ll back guys who are unfairly treated but there’s just no way we can defend the indefensible.   We know what society expects of us and we must lift our game.

“Our guys may have to take this on the chin.  This is bad news and there’s no way to sugar coat it.  We must do better right across the board.

“That said this is not about most farmers. We just hope all farmers aren’t tarred with the same brush here because most are responsible operators. 

“Our message is probably aimed at those who didn’t attend one of the three Enviroready field days on Plan Change 6A obligations, we ran last week, alongside DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

“We had a very good turnout to these field days despite it being the busiest time of the year. There is evidently still some confusion around what farmers need to be doing in order to remain compliant with the plan.

“Farmers have to do better.  We have to do better.  It’s really is as simple as that. 

“To that end, Federated Farmers Otago is supporting Clutha Development Trust’s application to the Sustainable Farming Fund.  This is for a community led water quality project in South Otago. 

“We're also working closely alongside other industry representatives and the Council to ensure that the information needed by farmers gets out to them. 

“If farmers don’t understand what their obligations are, or what they need to be doing or avoiding, the easiest thing for them to do is to call the Council, Federated Farmers, their industry good body or milk processor.   

“DairyNZ has experts in effluent management and if you are a member, you can also speak to Federated Farmers Otago’s policy staff or electeds as well. 

“We all want to pull together because otherwise this will generate the very headlines that we don’t want,” Mr Korteweg concluded.

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"“Those farmers not willing to take these steps are letting the industry and their local communities down,” Mr Bodeker said."

I'll say it again until people start hearing.

It's not the farmers, _the_customers_ and the processing company that sets the pricing for farmers are the ones letting people down.    Pay for the features you want in the product, and these things will be done (by processing company levy/withhold if needed).    But just like your iPhones and cars, you don't want to pay for the premium model model, you want to pay for the $5.30 quick knock off, then thats what you'll get 

Put the theoretical boot on the other foot, and your neighbour upstream can't be bothered with good stewardship of 'their land' and you start noticing more toxic water in the waterways by the time they get to your land, if there's any water left because upstream their pinching it all for irrigation. This isn't a case of consumers choosing whether to buy bacon from happy or sad pigs, when they choose to buy bacon. This is people sharing the same land we all live in who have no direct, or minimal influence on farming practises via what price they pay at the supermarket. We are all left at the mercy of what the offshore, export market is prepared to pay, against competition from other suppliers into that market who may care more, or less about the impacts on the environment.

 And I'll say it again.


Is it that hard to understand?
 If I hand you a spade are you going to come and build that creek fence for my neighbour with the stewardship problem?   

because what you're not grasping is:
*  If my neighbour has no money, and a wishlist a mile long, it doesn't matter how much I want them to change.  Whether it's they vote wrong, or farm wrong, or drive derelict cars.  If they don't have the funds* then nothing CAN be changed.   Why do you think 100 years ago they just used buckets and brooms to push the shit into the creeks?   Well, for many startups, the payout means they're on that same financial footing.

* BUT! if the moeny is coming in, and I don't like what my neighbour is doing.  I can financially insulate myself from their votes, I can ask (or via courts) insist that their life choices are damaging my life choices, or he can be asked or gifted a new car.  Or if he's got music too loud, or won't mow his lawns, or the apartment walls are too thin.   With money, fixes can be made, legal recourses make sense.
 ...without the money, without decent above cost payment of goods/ simply isn't possible.

You wouldn't expect to be hiring people for under minimum wage because law says a job needs doing... why do you think farmers are an exception?

* (or the technology... but with enough time and _money_ technology can be eventually developed, but it takes time and money). 

I understand the concept of money translating to some volume of 'work' fine thanks. I also understand that what was once seen as acceptable behaviours and practises 100 years ago, may not be seen as such today, and may be different again tomorrow. What I am struggling to understand is why you think I'm having a go at farmers? Where have I suggested what a farmer's skill and work is worth? (oh that's right, I should be somehow making sure more of the purchase price of my meat, dairy and produce goes to the farmers and horticulturists and less to the rest of the supply chain and overheads. How do I do that?)

The NZ price for milk is set by international supply and demand, it is not cost plus. Farmers who meet or exceed their resource consent obligations get paid the same price as farmers who do not. Ideally, Fonterra should refuse to to accept milk from farms that do not meet a minimum environmental standard, but that is very slow in happening.

The NZ Milk Price NEEDS to be set as a minimum to Fonterra as cost plus at a MINIMUM.  how do you expect farmers to keep producing a product for less than cost???

Fonterra is owned by farmers and does not own farmers.  it has no business playing police man

As has been explained repeatedly and at length to the Fonterra Company turn up here say I want this...we require that... you need to update <this>....   I will give them a quotation price, and when can look at the work when they give a properly authorised purchase order (after credit check and account paper work, otherwise it's cash up front..don't want to be caught out like the calf rearers or the winter milk people in the South Island).
 Just like every other business.  I can't rock up and demand my local engineers install extra refrigeration for free "because Fonterra wants it".   Same goes for Fonterra.   Any attitude to the opposite simply demonstrates Fonterra's insane political shenanigans..

I didn't know you had a choice cowboy.

The bank tells me I have choices, not like I'm going to borrow more and pay interest to make these things happen for fat arsed chair warmers

I thought I was paying premium?

Nope.  China's factory farms get p[aid almost double the farmgate gate price NZ farmers get - that was at the "boom" of $8+/kgMS.    NZ farmers get the generic commodity price. - even less now we're in the low $5 mark, roughly a _third_ of the payout elsewhere.


you are, but not to whom you think (yes from April 2013)

Fonterra sacrifices brands to survive in the private label slaughterhouse
To the credit of chief executive Theo Spierings, Fonterra appears to have a clear strategy in place. Last year it rejected the advances of Coles when asked to start manufacturing private-label cheese and opted to maintain its focus on branded products, even though the supermarket responded by delisting Mainland cheese from all its stores. Fonterra also impressed with its approach to brand consolidation. Spierings said recently that when he is finished, the 21 brands the company operates in Australia would probably be reduced to four or five brands.
more like the broken home market.

All that money they poured into developing and acquring those brands.... just like the heap of cash they spent developing the RD1 brand.  And doing a polish up "re-branding launch" only a few years ago.   They're not gaining new market strength, they aren't cracking new ground like they have in the past (eg ferrolactin)...   with TAF achieved and DIRA sucking at them, what the heck are they palying at?   It's like some 2-bit market chaser...

Dairy in NZ have always done well with a product spread with different brands covering different market segments within the same product range (aimed to met premium, budget, trend and specialist purchasers, all who have different nedds but for the same basic core product).    Brand reconcilation is absolutely backwards movement.     Premiums and NZ strengths are niche and quality production, not bulk generic behind a couple of products/flavours....hell even Mackers has gone beyond it's 6 burger line up....

Seriously thinking I need to consider getting on the board or at least  sharehandlers committee.

Why brand reduction is out of touch with (modern) reality