Media release

Fonterra pledge will build on existing environmental initiatives says Feds

November 16, 2017
Fonterra’s pledge to improve the nation’s waterways and environment is a commendable and achievable aspiration says Federated Farmers.
The dairy co-operative has outlined today ‘six commitments’ towards its target of reducing its environmental impact while ensuring a sustainable future for the dairy sector.
Federated Farmers Dairy Chair Chris Lewis said Fonterra’s declaration was a great opportunity and incentive for the dairy sector to build on those current and past environmental initiatives. 
“The commitment to farm within environmental limits, will resonate with our farmer members who have already invested significant sums of money in protecting waterways. 
“Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ conducted a survey several years ago to estimate the amount of environmental work farmers have carried out.  
“It showed an average spend per farm of $18,000 a year.  That’s equivalent to $90,000 per farm in New Zealand over a five-year period the survey canvassed on.
“We all get the aspiration to make more rivers swimmable and that is something which will take time, but with goodwill and buy-in from all the community including non-farming businesses, this can happen.” 
Chris also welcomes Fonterra’s recommendation for a targeted catchment approach for freshwater and says it was a blueprint for the Federation’s recent election manifesto.
“It’s something Federated Farmers has been advocating for several years now. There’s plenty evidence throughout the country of where community engagement with farmers has been successful in delivering sensible, practical and affordable solutions for water quality.
“We stand behind this approach and obviously our industry partners are acknowledging this is the best way forward. Let’s hope those in government see it that way too, it is a proven solution towards fixing our catchments, which are all unique and require different solutions.”
There was plenty of industry activity in the environmental space with the dairy sector and related industry organisations including Federated Farmers, launching the Dairy Tomorrow Strategy next week, building on the Sustainable Dairy Farming initiative.
“The progress made since that original industry strategy was launched in 2013 has been considerable. There are obvious reductions in on-farm nitrogen loss and greenhouse gas emissions and there are new mitigation techniques in the pipeline,” says Chris.
Science investment will ultimately be key to delivering on economic and environmental goals and Federated Farmers has campaigned for more government investment and focus.
“It’s been said often that water quality and evaluating it is complex, and this is not a soundbite either. We need robust science methodology to help farmers implement innovative, low cost and effective farming systems, that will continue to improve farm productivity and curtail environmental impacts, “says Chris.