Hats off to good farming at Landcorp

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.

5 Comments Posted

  1. Yes, Jarbury, but it is the District Council who has to provide the sewage system, waste management systems and so on.

  2. The government should require farmers to end the polluting – if necessary the government funds the work now, creates jobs and then bills the farmer to repay the “loan” (now attached to their property and accruing interest).

  3. Yes, we are currently in discussion with our District Council about pollution of our harbour from sewage. The Regional Council’s monitoring of the sewage ponds over the last 20 or so years has been infrequent and spasmodic to say the least. This has left us with little information to base discussion on.

    Their policy is good: all sewage kept on land, but they don’t follow through with adequate monitoring or pressure on the District Councils to comply.

  4. Good post Russel. It’s good for the Greens to be championing examples of what works and sharing some good news, rather than the “everyone’s screwing the environment over and we’re all going to hell” the depresses me at times.

    I do wonder how good and consistent the monitoring is though, especially when it’s undertaken by individual Regional Councils.

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