Dairy Compliance Heading In RIght Direction

NEW ZEALAND - DairyNZ says work the dairy industry is to doing to address effluent non-compliance is starting to pay off.
calendar icon 17 March 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord results released today cover the 2009/10 season and shows similar results to the 2008/09 season in meeting the Accord targets.

Areas with the highest rate of full compliance include Taranaki (96 per cent), Otago (95 per cent), Wellington (89 per cent) and Horizons (81 per cent). The lowest is Northland (43 per cent).

DairyNZ CEO Dr Tim Mackle says in places where DairyNZ, the dairy companies and Federated Farmers have worked collaboratively with councils to ensure farmers know what they need to do to be compliant, the results are beginning to show.

“In Canterbury in 2009/10 we launched the ‘Check It, Fix It, Get It Right’ campaign aimed at getting farmers to know what they needed to look for, and what they needed to do, and the results speak for themselves.

“There was a marked improvement in Canterbury, with full compliance increasing from 43 per cent to 59 per cent and serious non-compliance decreasing from 19 per cent to eight per cent. We want to see compliance much higher, and non-compliance lower, but we’re heading in the right direction.”

DairyNZ has extended its work in this area to other councils, developing compliance checklists for an additional eight regional council regions (Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Horizons and Southland) and good results are coming through.

“While the 2009/10 figures for the Waikato are a concern, Environment Waikato reported earlier this week that its aerial monitoring so far this season shows 11 per cent non-compliance. That’s a major drop from the 25 per cent reported from aerial and ground-based inspections last year,” says Dr Mackle.

“We, along with Fonterra, the other dairy companies and Federated Farmers have got a raft of initiatives in this area, because we’re serious about getting it right. It’s essential for the industry, from both an environmental and reputational point of view.”

“The truth is like a good story, it needs to be told,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“The good news is that the actual average for farms physically inspected has shown a decreasing trend for significant non-compliance. From 12 per cent in 2007/8, 11 per cent in 2008/9 and now 10 percent for the current report period.

“It’s the use of ‘weighted’ averages for significant non-compliance, which turns this positive trend into a negative one.

“For instance, only around one in five of farms in the Waikato were inspected but these results are scaled up to represent all the farms there. Given the Waikato accounts for a quarter of the national herd, any weighting tends to skew the national snapshot.

“That truth also is that 85 per cent of dairy farms now exclude dairy cattle from streams, rivers and lakes. That’s just shy of the 2012 target of 90 per cent, which has now been reached in Northland, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

“That truth is that 99 per cent of dairy farms have waterway crossings and 99 per cent have of all dairy farms have systems to manage nutrients. Keeping these nutrients on-farm makes good sense because it’s free liquid fertiliser.

“By informing, benchmarking and improving dairy farmers are getting results where it really counts,” Mr McKenzie concluded.

Fonterra said that the slight increase in significant non-compliance with regional council dairy effluent rules was unacceptable, but believed its Every Farm Every Year inspections regime was a concerted effort to turn this result around.

Today’s Dairying and Clean Streams Accord snapshot for the 2009/10 season shows significant national non-compliance rose by one per cent to 16 per cent, despite considerable improvements in Northland, Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago.

Fonterra Group Director Supplier and External Relations, Kelvin Wickham said Every Farm Every Year was a concerted effort to address non-compliance by identifying farms at risk and ensuring remedial plans were put in place.

“The programme got underway nationally in August so it was never going to change last season’s results. But what is encouraging is that the compliance message is getting through and farmers are taking it seriously. That’s also evident in the snapshot results for full compliance which rose five per cent to 65 per cent last season.”

He said Fonterra’s Sustainable Dairying Advisors have completed 1188 consultations with farmers keen to ensure their on-farm effluent infrastructure is able to cope with the year-round demands put on it. Farms are referred to the advisors if the Every Farm Every Year inspection identifies properties at risk of non-compliance, but Mr Wickham said some farmers had also proactively sought advice ahead of their farm’s assessment.

“Our initiative is beginning to have a positive impact with farmers willing to accept advice and to spend the money needed to improve their effluent systems. By the end of this season we expect to have 1,000 remedial plans in place. Since August, 252 farms have already completed their plans and a further 582 are underway. There are no quick fixes but farmers are working hard to get it right and in many cases a significant investment is needed to ensure systems are compliant 365 days a year.”

“Across the country there is a lot of good work going on unnoticed and while we know there’s more work to be done, it’s also appropriate to acknowledge the real efforts being made.”

TheCattleSite News Desk

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