9 Jan 2017

Dairy NZ to appeal decision on Greenpeace ad

2:28 pm on 9 January 2017

One of the groups who complained that a Greenpeace advertisement was false and misleading says it plans to appeal the advertising watchdog's decision.

Dairy cow

Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 12 complaints about the advert, which blamed the dairy industry for water pollution, but dismissed all of them.

Dairy NZ, which represents dairy farmers, would not comment on the reasons it was appealing, ahead of the hearing.

But chief executive Tim Mackle said the organisation was disappointed by the authority's decision.

"We were very unhappy with the ad in the first place. We do feel that it's misleading in the way that it's pitched... We have the opportunity now to appeal the ASA decision and we will do that," he said.

Mr Mackle said the public deserved a balanced picture.

Comments by Greenpeace that dairy farmers needed to acknowledge the existence of the problem, rather than denying it, were not helpful, he said.

Dairy NZ had recently met with representatives from the environmental lobby group and given them a picture of the work that dairy farmers were doing.

Farmers were not denying there were issues relating to the environment and how animals were treated, but had made a conscious effort in the last four to five years, Mr Mackle said.

"Ninety-six percent of our waterways are now fenced - 27,000km. Ninety-nine percent of stock crossings on dairy farms now have a bridge or a culvert to keep the animals out of there. And dairy farmers have spent in the last several years over $1 billion on upgrading the likes of effluent systems and so on, so there's been a big effort from farmers," he said.

"We're not there yet, we know we've got to keep working on things around our footprint, but we have to acknowledge there's been a lot of good work that's been going on."

Dairy NZ was also disappointed Greenpeace had chosen to ignore the embargo the ASA had requested, that neither party discuss the decision ahead of today's release, he said.

"Greenpeace came out on the weekend and given that request and the fact that we believe that this is an ongoing complaint with the opportunity ... to appeal that decision - we're very disappointed that Greenpeace has made an announcement before the ASA has had the opportunity to complete that investigation.

"We very much respected the ASA's condition that they are the only ones to comment until that appeal is processed and the ruling is determined."

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