The argument over whether New Zealand has too many cows is a regional issue, not a national issue, according to Ministry of Primary Industries’ chief science advisor, John Roche.
In its submission to Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI), Westland says open entry and open re-entry “could be phased out” only for new dairy conversions.
“To be clear, by open entry and re-entry we mean milk from new dairy conversions. We do not mean that Fonterra could choose not to collect milk from an existing dairy farm. Westland does not wish to see a situation whereby any farmer could have their milk not collected,” the co-op says.
Under DIRA Fonterra has a statutory obligation to be an open cooperative that accepts all milk supply offered by any dairy farmer in New Zealand provided he or she holds proportionate share s in the co-op. Fonterra's first preference is a total repeal of the open entry provisions of DIRA and Fonterra farmers will be happy to see Westland backing the co-op’s stance.
Westland says there remains a need for the DIRA.
“The DIRA contestability provisions have helped protect the long-term interests of New Zealand dairy farmers, consumers and the nation’s overall economic wellbeing.
“It is recognised that the dairy industry’s environmental impact has got worse as intensification has increased and as land has been converted to dairy. We consider that, at the margin, DIRA’s open entry provisions may have contributed to this outcome and could be phased out without imposing significant costs.
“We would not want to see unfettered open entry available for new dairy conversions.
The environmental situation has been acknowledged by farmers and efforts are in place to mitigate adverse effects of dairying. However, any further environmental protections required should be imposed by environmental legislation, such as the Resource Management Act (RMA), rather than through the DIRA,” Westland said in its submission.