Feds, Fonterra back new water accord

Federated Farmers backs the new Sustainable Dairying Water Accord.

Federated Farmers is proud to join the Dairy Industry’s collective effort, the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord, to lift dairying’s overall freshwater performance.  It forms part of a cogent strategy that could see dairying double its export value by 2025.

“Federated Farmers’ signature on the new Water Accord is the individual farmer’s commitment to do all we can to protect the water quality in our streams and rivers,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“As dairy farmers we have to lift our game on water quality.  If we want to meet the aspirations we have as an industry. If we want to meet government expectations and earn the respect of the wider community, then farming sustainably is the way ahead.

“As Federated Farmers we know that success won’t be measured by our leading farmers or even those in the peloton.  It will hinge on how we can successfully lift the farming and environmental performance of our lower performing farmers. 

“Those two go hand-in-hand because livestock thrive only with good quality water.

The majority of farmers are doing all that’s required but the industry, and the environment, are being let down by a few who need to make substantial improvements.

“I would like to make a special plea to the media on behalf of farmers.  That is for media to invest time to understand what modern dairying is and more importantly, what it is not.

“Federated Farmers will make it possible for the media to get on-farm.  I know the science of what we do can be hard for the media to portray, let alone when consents, polices and systems are added to the mix, but we need facts and not slogans in the public domain. 

“That extends to water science where our industry-good body, DairyNZ, is doing fantastic work in 14 catchments.  Having met some of their water quality scientists the calibre of talent they have is truly impressive.  While water quality scientists, they are also true communicators.

“With water, we need to realise there is no ‘one shoe fits all’ solution.  Each catchment faces different issues demanding different solutions to those issues.

“We know in Rotorua that the formula, “Councils+Farmers+Community = Results,” works.

“As farmers we also recognise that we impact the environment.  That is why this Water Accord exists because it is about us farmers owning the issue from the farm gate right throughout the supply chain to the finished product.

“Because dairying is so upfront, we create a small risk that some people will believe it is all down to us when it’s not.  To succeed we need a joined-up effort made up of councils, dairy companies, fertiliser companies in concert with local businesses and local communities. 

“Improving water also needs the input of our colleagues from the wider primary industries too. 

“Because a lot of what we do is green technology, from the colour of our pasture to the recycling of nutrients, this is about Green Dairying.

“All farmers care about land and water because we farm where we and our children live.  That makes us highly motivated to ensure the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord works because its success becomes our industry’s success,” Mr Leferink concluded.

The accord also has Fonterra’s backing:


Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited is right behind the dairy industry’s new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord (SDWA) and has the programmes in place to ensure its goals are achieved.

Fonterra’s Co-operative Affairs Managing Director Todd Muller said today that the Accord was a necessary step up for the New Zealand dairy industry as a whole.

“Consumers and customers around the world are demanding more from their food suppliers in terms of environmental performance and origin of products. To be successful and protect New Zealand’s reputation as the origin for the world’s best quality milk, dairy companies need to connect and respond to this changing picture. The launch of the SDWA is a great example of how this can be achieved through a pan-industry agreement.”

Mr Muller said Fonterra’s Supply Fonterra programme, as well as the earlier Dairying and Clean Stream Accord which Fonterra established in 2003, meant Fonterra farmers would be well placed to meet the new Accord goals after investing millions of dollars over the past nine years on environmental improvements.

“It’s important to recognise huge progress is being made. Fonterra suppliers are working hard to have cows excluded from waterways by the December 2013 deadline set out in Supply Fonterra. This includes mapping waterways on Fonterra farms and agreeing work plans with farmers who are still working towards completing stock exclusion by December.

“We are also working with our farmers and providing the support they need to achieve other targets set out in Supply Fonterra and the Accord. To do this we have increased our Sustainable Dairying Advisory team from four to 17.”

Commenting further on the SDWA, Mr Muller said: “No one group can make this happen on its own, it is great to see farmers, their dairy companies, regional councils, DairyNZ, and others all coming together to improve New Zealand’s water quality.”

We all want clean water and those of us who live closest to it, drink it, wash with it and swim in it have the greatest interest in ensuring we get it.


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