Fonterra is collating regional council figures for the final report of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord.
Fonterra’s general manager sustainability John Hutchings says the results will show a concerted effort by stakeholders paying dividends.
“The results will show the trend over the previous two seasons sustained last season, which has just finished,” he told Rural News.
Farmers are also spending heavily on effluent ponds and storage. In Canterbury last season 300 Fonterra suppliers upgraded their effluent systems.
Hutchings says there is definitely a change in attitude among farmers. “Farmers have stepped up effluent management in recent years, realising it is a source of nutrients for grass.”
Fonterra runs an ‘every farm every year’ scheme whereby assessors visit its 10,400 suppliers annually. Instead of focusing only on milk quality, the assessors look at effluent management infrastructure on each farm.
Farmers in breach of regional council rules are referred to sustainable dairy advisors who advise and help these farmers to comply fully.
The co-op has also threatened to stop picking milk from suppliers who constantly flout effluent management rules. However, it has never carried out its threat. Hutchings says Fonterra’s threat has been enough to spur suppliers into action.
“In most cases threats are enough and effluent-related are issues were resolved within two or three days.”
But he admits recent prosecution of farmers by some regional councils is disappointing. However, Hutchings remains confident stakeholders are striving to keep breaches and subsequent prosecutions down.
In Northland, farmer Graham Owen Fox was last week fined $24,000 for illegal discharges of dairy effluent from a storage tank and pond two years ago.
Fox had been charged with intermittently discharging effluent from an effluent storage tank to land “in circumstances that may have resulted in the contaminant entering an unnamed contributory of the Waima River”.
Last month a farm owned by Fonterra director Colin Armer was fined $72,000 plus costs. In October 2010, the farm’s effluent irrigation system failed, resulting in dairy effluent ponding in a paddock, which then flowed across land and into a stream near Maketu.
Last week the proprietors of Orete 2 & Other Blocks Incorporated, Waihau Bay, East Coast, was ordered to pay $45,000 for allowing effluent waste to flow over land and into the Waiare Stream.
Galatea farmer Eric John Steiner was fined $25,000 plus costs and his son Michael Eric Steiner was fined $15,000 plus costs for the unlawful discharge of dairy effluent that flowed eventually to a tributary of the Horomanga River, near Galatea.