Fonterra launches plan to improve waterways


Co-operative announces ambitious water commitments; invites Kiwis to visit farms and see what’s being done to promote healthy rivers.

Fonterra today launched an ambitious plan to help improve the quality of New Zealand’s waterways. Based around six strategic commitments, the plan will underpin Fonterra’s efforts to promote healthy streams and rivers, including a strong focus on sustainable farming and manufacturing.

In parallel, the Co-operative’s farmers will open up their farms around New Zealand to give Kiwis the chance to see first-hand the efforts farmers are making to increase water quality.

The release of the plan signals Fonterra’s desire to play an active role in delivering healthy waterways for New Zealanders and builds on the Co-operative’s previous efforts in this space. Recent examples include Fonterra’s commitment to restore 50 key freshwater catchments, its membership the Farming Leaders’ Pledge and work with the Department of Conservation on the Living Water initiative.

Miles Hurrell, Chief Operating Officer, Fonterra Farm Source, says the Co-operative and its farmers had been working hard to address water quality, but were ready and willing to do even more.  

“Like all Kiwis, we want healthy rivers. Our farmers have spent over $1 billion on environmental initiatives over the past five years and fenced more than 98% of significant waterways on farm. That’s a major undertaking but it highlights our commitment to getting this right and we’re already seeing that in some regions these actions are having a positive impact on water quality.

“All intensive land uses have had an impact on water quality in this country. That’s why we have to work together to address the issue. Today, we’re putting up our hands and promising to work with communities to promote healthy waterways for Kiwis to enjoy. Importantly, we’re backing up our words with action and making tangible commitments that we believe will make a real difference,” says Mr Hurrell.

Fonterra’s six water commitments are as follows:

  1. Farm within regional environmental limits

  2. Encourage strong environmental farming practices

  3. Reduce water use and improve wastewater quality at manufacturing plants

  4. Build partnerships to improve waterway health

  5. Invest in science and innovation to find new solutions

  6. Make the products people value most

Each of Fonterra’s commitments is underpinned by a set of clear actions. These range from supporting regional councils to set environmental limits for water use, investing $250 million to drive a 20 percent reduction in water use across its 26 manufacturing sites and almost doubling the Co-operatives network of Sustainable Dairy Advisors.

“We’re keen to show New Zealanders the hard work going on behind the farm gate, so on 10 December we’ll be hosting one of New Zealand’s largest ever community open days, giving people across the country the chance to visit one of 40 farms and see what we’re doing for themselves. Our farmers are looking forward to opening their gates,” concluded Mr Hurrell.