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Published: 2011-09-15 00:00:00

Dairy companies and Waikato Federated Farmers are making positive contributions towards helping protect water quality in the Waikato, says the regional council’s resource use group manager Chris McLay.

He was commenting after Open Country Dairy made a presentation to the council’s regulatory committee this week about its efforts to improve supplier compliance with effluent management rules designed to protect water.

“Nationally Fonterra has introduced a scheme where it checking the effluent management systems of its suppliers every year, and is working with the regional council in the Waikato to develop methods of keeping nutrients out of waterways,” said Mr McLay.

“Waikato Federated Farmers has been promoting the message that farmers need to ensure they comply with our rules, and to have adequate effluent storage.

“Now the presentation from Open Country Dairy shows clearly how it too is making a big effort to ensure its suppliers operate in an environmentally friendly way.”

Open Country manager John Fairweather outlined to the committee ways in which the company was working to protect the environment, including how it won’t accept suppliers who have a poor environmental record.

Another example was how Open Country worked with advisers from industry body DairyNZ to help address environmental issues on supplier farms when they came to the company’s attention.

“The ongoing efforts of Federated Farmers, Fonterra, Open Country and others to lift farming’s environmental game in the Waikato are greatly appreciated by the council,” said Mr McLay.

“The scale and nature of the water quality issues faced by our region are very significant.

“For example, we will need to work very closely with our iwi partners and stakeholders in the agriculture sector and elsewhere to protect and improve the health of the Waikato River.

“It’s a healthy sign for the future of this work that we are now seeing very good co-operation between council, Federated Farmers and dairy companies on improving compliance with effluent management rules.”