Dairy convictions send a powerful message

Tuesday 15 October 2013, 4:55PM
By Federated Farmers of New Zealand

Following the conviction and fining of farmers under the Resource Management Act, Federated Farmers supports the legal role regional councils play in protecting the environment.

“The right to farm carries with it an obligation to do our utmost to ensure environmental ill effects are minimised,” says Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers Waikato Dairy chairperson.

“We cannot excuse what has happened because ignorance of the law is no defence.  It is not as if the issues involved in these cases have not been well covered in the media over recent years.

“Given what I read in the judgements it is incumbent on Federated Farmers to get alongside the farmers involved.  We need to take them forward with us rather then leave them behind.

“The nutrients involved actually represent free fertiliser if an irrigator was attached to the end of the pipe.

“There is a lot of support for farmers from the likes of us, DairyNZ, the dairy companies and even the council itself.  My advice to farmers, wherever they are, is to talk with your local Federated Farmers team.

“Federated Farmers will stick like glue to farmers who do the right thing but we cannot turn a blind eye to those who let the side down.

“Convictions like this undo all the great work farmers do every day.  Our industry is wrongly judged on the failures of a few rather than the positive contribution most farmers make.

“We see that in surging compliance rates across the country from the on-farm investments we are making.  The bulk of the dairy industry is moving ahead with ambitious targets around environmental performance,” Mr Lewis said.

This was supported by Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president James Houghton.

“Our industry does not deserve to be tarnished by the stupid and reckless actions of a few,” Mr Houghton added.

“There are over 3,500 dairy farms in the Waikato region so we are taking this seriously.  It is why we support Waikato Regional Council doing what they have to do to protect the environment.

“It also sends a powerful message to an increasingly small group of farmers that they need to call for support if things are getting out of control. That support is there and if they don’t ask for it then they risk a criminal conviction under the Resource Management Act.

“It and the fines that go with a conviction are serious and are no slap with a wet bus ticket,” Mr Houghton concluded.