Canterbury’s dairy compliance: focus on continuing improvement
Canterbury’s dairy farm consent compliance results for the latest season (2013-14) show no prosecutions were needed while the overall rates of compliance were similar to the previous season. The summary of results is being released to support the annual audit of the Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord (the full Canterbury Dairy Report will be released later in the year).
“Our approach over the past season has been to continue to support the collective action set out in the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord which will ensure we continue to make progress in improving the environmental performance of dairy farming,” said Kim Drummond, Environment Canterbury’s Director of Resource Management.
“While we are pleased to see the annual results are on track, we are determined to see ongoing improvements in compliance. We are continuing to work with industry and farmers to find new approaches to lift on-farm environmental performance. It’s important also to note the compliance results are just one part of how we measure the progress being made by the industry.”
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord sets targets for excluding stock from waterways and for installing bridges or culverts, as well as developing riparian management plans. It also requires farmers to provide information to their dairy company to allow for the modelling on nitrogen loss and nitrogen conversion efficiency, with the aim to drive continuous improvement. All dairy farm effluent systems are required to be capable of being compliant with regional council rules 365 days of the year.
“It is pleasing that over the past season there were no cases which required us to lay charges against a dairying operation – compared with three or four prosecutions in each of the previous few seasons.
Environment Canterbury officers made at least one compliance visit to each of the 1093 dairy farms monitored (out of 1100 farms) in Canterbury during the 2013-14 season. In total 792 farms or 72 per cent recorded full compliance with the conditions of their dairy effluent consents (unchanged from the previous year).
Minor non-compliance was recorded at 205 farms – a 19% rate compared with 21% in the previous season. Significant non-compliance was 8% (96 farms) compared with 7% in the previous year. In addition seven abatement and 13 infringement notices were issued to dairy operations in the 2013-14 season – a similar rate to previous seasons.
In Canterbury the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan – which was notified in August 2012 – sets new rules to protect and enhance the region’s fresh water, aligning with the community’s aspirations set out in the Canterbury Water Management Strategy to provide for both economic and environmental outcomes.
Dairy shed effluent must be managed in accordance with resource consent conditions rules set out in the proposed Land and Water Regional Plan. Enforcement actions for significant non-compliance issues include abatement notices, infringement notices, and in extreme cases, prosecutions.
“Part of the collective work to improve the environmental performance of dairy farming is our work with the Canterbury Dairy Effluent Group – a council-industry partnership set up in the 2008-09 season when just 43% of dairy farms were recording full consent compliance.”
“We look forward to continuing to work with the dairy industry and farmers with a shared understanding of what needs to be done, and what can be done to achieve improved fresh water outcomes in Canterbury,” said Kim Drummond.
Dairy effluent consent compliance facts and background
Environment Canterbury compliance officers visited 1093 out of 1100 dairy farms at least once between July 2013 and May 2014. In the cases where significant non-compliance was found, Environment Canterbury officers made follow-up visits until compliance was achieved.
In 2008 Environment Canterbury held a meeting with industry partners, Fish and Game and Forest and Bird, to discuss ways to improve levels of dairy effluent compliance. A combined industry and Environment Canterbury group (Canterbury Dairy Effluent Group) has been working collaboratively since then to improve the rate of dairy effluent compliance.
The group has agreed to work on a wider range of on-farm environmental management and will change the name from this season to the Canterbury Dairy Environment Group. The new scope includes stock exclusion, riparian management, and nutrient management, aligning more with the scope of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan.
The industry partners are dairy companies Fonterra, Synlait Milk, Westland Milk Products, and Oceania Dairy, industry groups DairyNZ and Federated Farmers, as well as the South Island Dairying Development Centre and PrimaryITO.