17 Mar 2011

Farmers fail to reach clean dairying targets

1:56 pm on 17 March 2011

The country's dairy farmers have made little overall progress in the past year in reaching full compliance with the national dairying and clean streams accord.

The annual Snapshot of Progress released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday shows dairy farmers are still meeting only two of five accord targets.

The accord is an agreement between Fonterra and central and local government to improve and protect the quality of waterways in dairy farming regions.

It measures dairy farmers' performance in meeting resource consent conditions, bridging waterways, excluding stock from streams and wetlands, and using nutrient management tools.

The latest report shows 65% of dairy farmers nationally fully complied with regional council effluent discharge rules - 5% more than the previous year.

The compliance rate varies between 39% and 96% across the regions.

The national level of significant non-compliance increased by 1%to 16% in the past year.

Farmers in Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago reduced the level of non-compliance, but it increased in Waikato, Tasman and Marlborough and remains high in Northland.

The two areas in which farmers are meeting the accord targets are in keeping stock out of waterways and bridging waterways.

Dairy cows are now excluded from waterways on 85% of farms.

Dairy New Zealand chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says progress has been made in dairy farmer compliance since the latest snapshot figures were compiled.

Federated Farmers says 90% of inspected dairy farms in 2009/10 were either fully compliant with regional council plans and Resource Management Act consent requirements, or guilty of no more than not complying with technical conditions.

Fonterra says the results are unacceptable.

A spokesperson Kelvin Wickham says the company expects next year's results to be much improved because of new effluent management initiatives introduced this season.