Fonterra is backing dairy farmers to continue improving freshwater quality while asking the Government to reconsider some of its proposals.
The Co-operative is responding to the Government’s Action Plan for Healthy Waterways.
Dairy farmers are well-placed to build on the great work they’ve already done to improve water quality. Farmers are heading in the right direction, and we’ll back them to the hilt as they make improvements.
“There are a number of proposals we do support and will work with our farmers to help them meet these. In particular, we welcome the Government’s acknowledgement of the value of Farm Environment Plans (or FEPs) and would encourage them to go further and make them mandatory for farmers and growers. Around 23% of our farmers already have an FEP, which is a bespoke plan to help farmers live within environmental limits.
“However, calling for 5-metre fencing setbacks and DIN bottom lines without appropriate analysis is worrying farmers.”
Specific proposals Fonterra is uncomfortable with include:
“More than 98% of waterways described in the proposal are already fenced, and another 12,000km of drains and smaller waterways. This proposal punishes those farmers who have proactively fenced their waterways, with little added benefit and at huge cost. Pulling these down and making farmers start again shouldn’t be a priority – getting unfenced waterways should be.
“Continuing to help farmers get Farm Environment Plans to identify areas they can improve across the whole farm will be far more effective in improving freshwater quality.”
“This proposal doesn’t consider local contexts or ambitions, and isn’t backed up by any analysis to the economic cost to individual farmers, their communities or wider regional economies. In some parts of New Zealand, farms would have to make nitrogen reductions in excess of 50%, and we would expect robust analysis to justify this.”
The Ministry for the Environment has granted a two-week extension to the consultation period, and will accept submissions until 31 October.
“It’s great to see the consultation period has been extended. This gives dairy farmers more time to prepare top quality responses.”
Charlotte says some farmers are concerned about the arbitrary nature of these proposals.
“There is a lot of emotion on all sides of this debate, and rightly so – New Zealanders are passionate about the environment. But at the end of the day, we’re all talking about the same thing. Clean, thriving freshwater can exist alongside a thriving farming economy. We believe New Zealand should be aiming for both.
“How we get there is open for debate, but we can only do this together.”