Here’s some good news on dairy farming and a doff of the cap to the SOE Landcorp and its farm managers.
We recently asked Landcorp how it was doing with compliance on effluent consents. Their General Secretary informs us that they had one infringement notice in 2008 and two in 2007. Landcorp has 37 dairy farms, so its non-compliance rate in 2008 was 3%. They have also ensured that the earlier breaches are not repeated.
That is significantly better than the 11% nationwide non-compliance rate amongst the 10,000 Fonterra dairy farms as reported in the Clean Streams Accord report. The compliance rate of other companies’ suppliers, such as Westland Dairy, Tatua and Synlait, are unknown, but frog readers may wish to write to them and ask. Compliance by itself is not enough to clean up our polluted waterways, but it is an important baby-step to a grown-up solution.
I’d also note that other Landcorp efforts to protect waterways and wetlands have drawn praise from DoC in Southland. So, well done farmers at Landcorp.
So this is a nod to what is possible, and proof positive that we can do better. There’s a significant minority of farmers who are irresponsible. These farmers aren’t pulling their weight, these farmers give the diary industry a bad name, these farmers pollute the waterways so that cattle downstream can’t drink the water and our kids can’t swim in our rivers. They need to be prodded into action and that’s a role for government.
We also need to remember two other factors in this equation, the first is that our regional councils are charged with keeping up standards. They often struggle for the will and resources to do the job thoroughly, but some are leading the way – the Horizon’s One Plan in particular.
Unfortunately, the new Government seems set on weakening the laws on which the councils’ and responsible farmers’ efforts are based. The idea that we have ‘too much’ regulation misrepresents the issue. The question is not how much or how little government we have, but ‘does it work?’
Landcorp is showing it can work. We just need Government to require the others to follow.