‘Two Years On’, the latest report on how the dairy industry is tracking against its commitments under the Accord, shows that dairy farmers have made significant and meaningful progress on environmental actions.
The audited report shows that 96 percent of dairy cattle are fenced off from waterways on farms. That equals 25,656 kilometres of measured Accord waterways excluded from dairy cattle.
Waterway stock exclusion on a dairy farm is now regarded as a given and a non-negotiable industry requirement, says DairyNZ’s strategy and investment leader for sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore.
National levels of significant non-compliance for dairy effluent systems on farms have dropped to their lowest ever, at 5.8 percent (down from 7 percent in 2013-14).
Seventy-five percent of farmers (compared to 56 percent in 2013-14) are now getting nitrogen information to help them farm more responsibly – with 8598 nutrient budgets processed last year.
More than 99 percent of 42,773 regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts to protect local water quality.
Dr Pridmore says dairy farmers have made great strides in the past two years. “We’re already where we need to be in terms of meeting our own targets for excluding stock from waterways and that’s been done voluntarily.
“We are committed to farming responsibly and within environmental water quality and quantity limits, as these limits get agreed locally through community processes and the implementation of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater,” he says.
“We are already supporting 15 water projects nationwide in key areas. Farmers have developed hundreds of Sustainable Milk Plans to drive on-farm performance in regions including Waikato, Northland and Canterbury.
“All our actions as part of the Water Accord are impacting on water quality – and these are the same actions that regional councils say will make a difference to local waterways.”
Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand executive director Kimberly Crewther says the Water Accord is helping the dairy industry to measure its progress and report to the public in a transparent manner. “It is part of how we are driving continual self-improvement across the industry.
“When we aren’t meeting our own expectations around targets, we are fixing that as fast as we can,” she says. “The two toughest challenges are still collecting nutrient management data and performance benchmarking, and getting information on significant wetlands in regional council boundaries. We are also catching up with measuring compliance with environmental standards for new farm conversions.”
Tracy Brown, a Matamata farmer and chair of the Dairy Environment Leaders’ Forum, says that dairy farmers themselves are providing the purpose and direction to create the accelerated action the industry requires. “Dairy farmers are making a positive difference. Despite tough seasons, farmers around the country are doing big things and small things, and showing their commitment by investing in good environmental practice.”
Dr Rick Pridmore
DairyNZ strategy and investment leader – sustainability
Tel: 021 816 143
DCANZ executive director
Tel: 027 838 6356
DairyNZ engagement and communications manager
Tel: 027 703 0211