Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the latest progress report of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord project, showing dairy farmers have now fenced off over 97 per cent of waterways.
“The Water Accord is a voluntary project led by the industry to improve farming practices and water quality. This Year Three update shows a range of targets have been achieved, including stock exclusion from 26,197 km of measured waterways which is the equivalent of Auckland to Chicago and back again,” says Mr Guy.
“99.4 per cent of regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts to protect local water quality, and over 10 million dollars has been spent on environmental stewardship and farmer support programmes.
“9,517 nutrient budgets were processed and nitrogen information provided to farmers, representing 83% of the industry.
“Dairy farmers deserve credit for the leadership they have shown in recent years. There has been a major reduction in pollution entering our lakes and rivers from dairy sheds, factories and town effluent systems.
“From the Government side, a huge amount of work has generated new rules, standards and monitoring which simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. This includes new regulations to keep livestock out of waterways to reduce E.coli and improve water quality.
“Achieving our goal of 90% swimmability by 2040 will be a long-term project. It will take decades because water quality issues have built up over decades and there is no quick fix.
“There are still challenges ahead but we are going to achieve it in a practical, realistic and sustainable way that doesn’t ruin our economy at the same time. This is a long term issue and we’re all in it together.”
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in July 2013 setting out the dairy industry’s commitment to New Zealand and improving water quality.
It includes a set of national good management practice benchmarks aimed at lifting environmental performance on dairy farms, along with commitments to targeted riparian planting plans, effluent management, comprehensive standards for new dairy farms and measures to improve the efficiency of water and nutrient use on farms.
It has been developed with the input of farmers, dairy companies, central Government, regional councils and the Federation of Māori Authorities.