Fonterra-MAF-Environment Action on Water Quality in Dairy Regions

2 May 2002

Auckland, New Zealand - Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry (MAF), the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and Environment Waikato (representing regional councils) have agreed to work together to achieve clean, healthy water in dairying areas. Their goal is to minimise the impact of dairying on New Zealand's streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands so that they are suitable where appropriate for fish, drinking by stock and swimming.

They agreed today to finalise an Action Plan, with clear objectives and measurable performance targets, before the end of this year. Priorities for the Action Plan will be fencing streams and rivers, providing stock crossings at critical points, fencing significant wetlands, appropriate disposal of dairy shed effluent and managing nutrients applied to farms. The Action Plan will build on existing industry and local government initiatives already underway throughout the country.

Craig Norgate, Fonterra's Chief Executive, said the company was focussed on performance on a broad basis and was committed to leading the industry in minimising its impact on the environment. "Fonterra's participation sends a strong message to the public and to domestic and international consumers that environmental management is an integral and important component of the dairy industry," he said.

MAF's Larry Fergusson, MAF's Group Manager Policy, said the expansion of the industry into regions not accustomed to dairying, and the intensification of existing dairy farms, increased the importance of effectively addressing impacts on water quality. "We're pleased that Fonterra is taking a constructive approach to the issue. Industry self-management will be more effective in achieving positive environmental outcomes than reliance on a rules-based regime imposed by regulatory agencies," he said. Ray Salter, MfE's Acting Chief Executive, said his ministry was looking for a strategic, cohesive partnership approach, and wider stakeholders will be consulted.

Barry Harris, Environment Waikato's Chief Executive, said regional councils have long supported the need for industry-led initiatives. "We can support the industry through a whole range of actions including education, incentives and advice. It's not enough to rely on regulation alone."

The principles guiding the development of the Action Plan are that it should:

  • acknowledge the lead role of the dairy sector;
  • be applicable throughout dairying areas in New Zealand and able to be adapted for different situations to reflect catchment characteristics;
  • contain actions, each of which would make a real difference, recognising that greater benefits will be achieved when multiple actions are adopted;
  • be cost-effective;
  • be practical to implement in the context of existing farming operations;
  • clearly recognise the practical and financial constraints to implementation timeframes; and
  • recognise that improved waterways management at the farm scale will generally focus on headwaters, small streams and drains.



Matthew Hooton Corporate Communications Fonterra, Co-operative Group Ltd, +64 9 2565404, +64 27 2310237

Chris Morrison, Corporate Communications, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, +64 4 4989806, +64 21 852559 

Ray Salter, Acting Chief Executive Ministry for the Environment, +64 4 9177422

Barry Harris, Chief Executive, Environment Waikato, +64 7 8567184

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