Crapfarms – how many times?

by frog

So, dairy farming company CraFarms has been charged yet again for alleged dirty dairying on a farm near Hamilton. They were in court yesterday in Te Awamutu, prosecuted by Environment Waikato. Their defence: “the farm’s effluent system had difficulties managing the herd size.” Imagine if Air NZ said, “sorry the landing gear collapsed due to difficulties holding up the passenger weight (because we overloaded the plane!)”. Pathetic.

This charge is another in a continuing litany of convictions for pollution offences. Russel spoke about their past record in Parliament last year:

We would never let Parliament outlaw whitebaiting, but the parties in this House are perfectly happy to let the giant industrial dairy polluter CraFarm pour so much cow faeces and urine and fertiliser into our rivers that it kills the species that make up the whitebait catch. CraFarm are known colloquially as “CrapFarm”. We would never let a regional council stop people whitebaiting, but when the industrial dairy polluter CraFarm ends up in front of the Environment Court four times in a row for polluting rivers and groundwater with cow faeces and urine we just let them carry on doing it. When “CrapFarm” got pinged in the Environment Court with a $37,500 fine for polluting a pristine river in the Hawke’s Bay, it did not care. It did not care because it had a $5 million turnover on that property—it was a minor expense.

Which makes me scratch my favourite wart and think – how many times do you have to be convicted of polluting before you are banned from farming?

A recidivist drink-driver or speeder gets their licence to drive revoked. Just last week a Hawke’s Bay farmer was banned from farming for 10 years after admitting ill-treating hundreds of his animals.

Why not with pollution? Do we need to go beyond just increasing fines in the RMA (one of the few good ideas in the RMA reform bill), and introduce a limit to how often bad farmers can get away with stuffing the environment and bringing down the good name of all the farmers who do the right thing?

However, farmers, like the rest of us, do make mistakes and I was pleased to see this “restorative justice” approach to a Waimate farmer who damaged a stream installing a waterpipe. The farmer acknowledged his guilt, ECan recognised good work he’d done elsewhere on the farm, and compensation will go to fixing the damage. Hopefully, he won’t make the same mistake twice.

Addendum: Just after posting I noticed yet another instance highlighted on NoRightTurn. NRT writes:

A Manawatu man has been given a record fine under the RMA for illegally discharging farm effluent onto land, and “meaty smelling” waste into the Manawatu River. Ken Thurston was fined $140,000 for “deliberate and calculated” discharges aimed at saving money. But the question is whether it was enough to outweigh the profits he made from his pollution. And if it wasn’t, its neither a punishment or a deterrant, but merely a cost of doing business.

frog says

Published in Environment & Resource Management by frog on Thu, May 21st, 2009   

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