Fonterra Sharpens Focus On Water Quality

NEW ZEALAND - Fonterra is taking further steps to protect water quality in dairying regions by including a new clause in its terms and conditions of supply that will contribute to the quality of New Zealand's lakes, rivers and streams.
calendar icon 1 December 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Fonterra's General Manager Milk Supply Steve Murphy says since signing the Clean Streams Accord eight years ago, the co-operative has made measurable progress on protecting New Zealand's waterways.

"In addition, our Every Farm Every Year programme introduced last year has achieved improvements in effluent compliance. We are heading in the right direction and are now taking the next step by introducing a clause that will mean the Co-operative's 10,500 suppliers will be required to fence all Accord waterways on their farms.

"Fonterra is committed to doing its bit to look after our environment. Ensuring stock stay out of lakes, rivers and streams is fundamental to maintaining water quality and this clause sets a clear Fonterra standard for all of our farmers."

Mr Murphy says a lot of good work has already been done with the Co-operative's farmers taking voluntary action to ensure all waterways on their properties are fenced.

"Farmers have made good progress. Now is the time to build on what's been achieved by setting a Co-operative wide standard that ensures those lagging behind do what's expected."

Mr Murphy says while many farmers already have 100 per cent stock exclusion, others will have more work to do to become fully compliant.

"The Co-op is going to work with those that need to catch-up by putting environmental improvement plans in place. These plans will include a programme of work to ensure all streams, rivers and lakes are fenced."

Farmers have 18 months from the beginning of next season to become compliant with Fonterra's new condition of supply.

"Our Sustainable Dairy Advisors will work with farmers to ensure they're doing the required fencing and provide help and advice where it's needed," says Mr Murphy.

Federated Farmers believes Fonterra Cooperative Group’s decision to make stock exclusion a condition of supply, is an important environmental step forward for the dairy industry. It is a move which has the Federation looking ahead to the next evolution of the Clean Streams Accord.

“It is a tribute to Fonterra’s shareholder suppliers that they are in a position to turn a voluntary requirement for stock exclusion into a mandatory condition of supply,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“While it won’t be universally popular, there is an 18-month window to complete all remaining work. Federated Farmers believes Fonterra is on the right track to make stock exclusion from waterways a condition of supply as it is a marker for the Clean Streams Accord II."

“Compared to the tokenism of the emissions trading scheme, stock exclusion is real and tangible."

“Stock exclusion helps provide our exports with a surety that the farm environment is being responsibly managed. This in turn helps our dairy exports achieve a premium position as being safe, wholesome and trustworthy. Plainly speaking it is also the right thing to do."

“What Fonterra is telling us, is that stock exclusion has reached such a critical mass that compulsion is now achievable. I don’t think many people outside of farming appreciate the time, cost and effort we’ve put in over the past decade to improve environmental practices."

“I’m also under no illusion that our critics will suddenly do a ‘180’ on the back of what is a major step forward. As a farmer and as a Kiwi, no one deserves to be called a ‘polluter’ when it isn’t deserved."

“What I hope will come through from Fonterra’s decision is that dairy farmers are doing a lot of real things environmentally. It goes way beyond stock exclusion and I feel the public deserve to know more about modern farming practices."

“Farmers have never begrudged investing in bridges, culverts and fences because of the benefits we see on-farm. I just hope today, we can start shining light on the stuff we’re getting right,” Mr Leferink concluded.

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