Prosecution a strong message to farmers
Following a Waikato farmer who was fined $131,840 for over-irrigation of effluent on Monday, DairyNZ and Waikato Dairy Leaders Group Chair Jim van der Poel says councils have full support in getting all farmers to meet their effluent obligations.
“We are disappointed, as I’m sure most dairy farmers are, that a few individuals continue to let the sector down through failing to comply with effluent management rules. There is certainly no excuse for repeated offences which could have been prevented,” says Jim.
“The total fine in this prosecution is significant and sends a strong message to farmers who need to do better. We support the Waikato Regional Council and other regional councils in monitoring and prosecuting farmers for serious infringement of the rules.
“From our point of view, any breach is one too many. Managing effluent is a necessary part of running an efficient dairy system. The sector needs those farmers who aren’t doing the right thing with their effluent management to step up, take responsibility and make the necessary changes.”
DairyNZ supports farmers with those changes and a number of resources are available to all dairy farmers, including a Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator, A Farmer’s Guide to Building a New Effluent Storage Pond and access to accredited effluent system designers.
“The majority of dairy farmers are doing their utmost to make sure they’re doing all they can to protect the environment and the waterways that run on and near their farms every day,” says Jim.
“Significant non-compliance for dairy effluent discharges nationally in 2016/17 was 5.2 percent, the lowest on record, but we realise there is still a way to go.”
The dairy sector is committed to helping farmers continue to operate more sustainably and significant changes have been made over the last decade, including fencing off 99.4 percent of significant waterways.
“The first commitment in the sector strategy Dairy Tomorrow is ‘We will protect and nurture the environment for future generations’ and we intend to get all our farmers on track to achieving that goal,” says Jim.
“Our vision is clear – we want healthy waterways – and we are committed to helping farmers achieve it, just as the vast majority of farmers are committed to doing their bit.”
• All dairy farmers have a responsibility to manage the effluent from their cows and this is taken seriously by the vast majority of dairy farmers.
• Most dairy farmers are investing in reliable, sustainable farm systems.
• Well-designed and constructed effluent storage provides a lot of benefits – better flexibility for irrigation, better environmental management, peace of mind and reduced risk of effluent non-compliance. All farmers need to be aware of, understand and adhere to permitted activity rules.
• For farmers who haven’t yet undertaken the work needed to meet their obligations, advice is available from dairy companies and regional councils. DairyNZ also has an environmental extension specialist whose role includes working with farmers, rural professionals and others to help farmers understand their effluent management requirements and how to meet them.
• DairyNZ resources available to all dairy farmers include a Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator, A Farmer’s Guide to Building a New Effluent Storage Pond and a certification scheme for accredited effluent system designers.
• Farmers looking for support in establishing effluent infrastructure can visit the DairyNZ website – www.dairynz.co.nz/effluent. New conversion information (including a Responsible Conversions guide) is available at www.dairynz.co.nz/conversions.