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First review of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord provides fodder for both sides of the rural water quality debate

First review of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord provides fodder for both sides of the rural water quality debate
A new fenced waterway

DairyNZ has today released its first annual review of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.

All dairy company signatories have nutrient management program requirements in place and more than half their suppliers (56%) have them in place on-farm.

One year on, some are claiming progress, that the systems are developing to get this issue under control.

Here is the auditor's Report on the Review.

Others however are claiming the Accord process has not cleaned up the rural waterways yet and is already a failure.

Here is Federated Farmers:

Federated Farmers is, on the whole, pleased with the progress towards meeting targets in the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord, which issued its first year achievement report today.

But Dairy Chair Andrew Hoggard says there is a bottleneck, where different dairy companies are using different reporting systems, that needs to be ironed out.

“It’s not that farmers haven’t done the work, because we have done a whole lot. I know it’s probably not surprising there is this compatibility issue, given this is the first year all these different entities have been working together, but farmers have invested a lot in riparian fencing in particular, and it’s annoying to not be able to claim full credits for the work done. If we haven’t got one lot of paperwork lining up with another lot of paperwork with everyone using the same criteria we can’t give ourselves a pass mark, so I’m pleased to see sorting this out is a priority.  We want to ensure that the companies make sure that we have it right for next year” Mr Hoggard says.

He says though the target for exclusion of stock from waterways has not been achieved, an unverified 94 percent exclusion rate, compared with the 90 percent target, sounds pretty good to him and full exclusion is not too far away. Likewise, the audits of farms, detailed local advice on riparian planting and setting up a national network of highly qualified advisors. 

“This gives us a solid foundation for getting the management tools and advice to farmers to achieve the longer term aims of the Accord.”

“I’m sure that the news media will highlight one or two cases where the targets were missed.  With the nutrient management data not aligning I am not surprised that we didn’t quite achieve the target. As everyone in the industry will be well aware, as I keep nagging them about it, improving data collection systems is the solution. It will not only provide more accurate and quicker information to the industry, but save farmers from having to fill out another bloody form, as well as provide the farmers themselves with more relevant and timely information.” 

Mr Hoggard finished by saying “It’s been hard work over the past few years to get agreement from farmers, local bodies and the dairy companies and setting the goals and the timelines to achieve them.  I’m confident we will meet those total achievement targets.” 

And here is the Green Party:

The first monitoring report of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord fails to show progress on cleaning up our rivers since the Accord was introduced, the Green Party said today.

The Accord’s targets for stock exclusion are weaker than the previous clean streams accord and the auditor’s report highlights that the report’s progress on stock exclusion cannot be verified.

The Auditor’s report also highlights that the target for nutrient management data was failed.

“The report shows the Accord is failing, we need less greenwash and more action,” Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“The deadline for exclusion of stock was supposed to be achieved in 2012, the target was deferred and now can’t be verified.

“We can’t believe the figures in this report, because they are self-reported.

“Previous verification of self-reporting data highlighted massive errors – the verified figure was half what was claimed.

“It’s concerning that the proportion of farms with a nutrient management plan under the Accord has flat lined. It should be improving.

“The Accord is a public relations exercise, it is not cleaning up our rivers.

“Already signs are going up around New Zealand that rivers are unsafe for swimming, and dogs have died after exposure to toxic algae.

“This summer New Zealanders want to be able to pop down to the river to go swimming without getting sick.

“The Government’s weak bottom lines that don’t ensure our rivers are safe for swimming are leaving New Zealanders high and dry this summer,” said Ms Delahunty.

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