Dairy Farmers Take Further Steps To Aid Environment

ANALYSIS - The environmental impact of New Zealand dairy farms is one that comes under a lot of criticism. Promoting a green and healthy product is key to New Zealand's dairy success, writes Charlotte Johnston TheCattleSite editor.
calendar icon 2 December 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

Yet in Canterbury, one of largest dairy producing regions in New Zealand, only 65 per cent of farmers are fully compliant with environmental regulations. This number is continually increasing, with more and more farmers understanding the importance of maintaining the environment, and more importantly taking measures to protect the environment.

Effluent ponding, discharging effluent too close to a waterway and nitrogen overloading are common issues in some parts of the country.

This week, Fonterra announced further steps to protect water quality by including a new clause in its terms and conditions of supply.

The new condition is that all of the co-op's suppliers must fence all Accord waterways on their farms. Farmers have 18 months from the beginning of next season to become compliant with the new condition of supply.

Fonterra's General Manager Milk Supply Steve 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."

Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson said: "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.

"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."

Undoubtedly any step to improve the environment is a positive one.

Finally, despite environmental concerns, the future for New Zealand's dairy sector couldn't look better. The national herd is increasing at a greater rate than its resident human population, and the industry has seen a record year for the average production per cow - achieving an average of 334 kg milksolids (of which 190kg milkfat and 144kg protein) per cow.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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