DairyNZ says that the report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) Water quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution highlights an issue which significant work is underway to address.
DairyNZ's Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore says while the report looks at the impact of land use change and nutrients on water quality by 2020, the reality is there are already central and local government and industry initiatives in progress that define how New Zealand's freshwater resources are managed.
"We are working with farmers, regional councils and other stakeholders to contribute to desired water quality outcomes," says Dr Pridmore. "The PCE's report highlights the critical importance of this limit setting process, because uncontrolled growth is unsustainable. Unfortunately the PCE's report paints an unrealistic picture of the future that ignores this limit-setting process."
Dr Pridmore says under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, communities are required to define their values and set limits for water quality. There is multi-stakeholder support to do this in a collaborative process.
"We are pleased to see the PCE recognising our industry's Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord and its commitments on fencing of waterways, water, nutrient and effluent management," says Dr Pridmore.
Fonterra farmers will have already fenced 24,400 km of waterways in the next weeks to meet the demands of the water accord.
"We are stepping up as an industry and taking our responsibilities seriously. Progress will be independently audited by a third party and is being robustly implemented through supply agreements," says Dr Pridmore.
DairyNZ, on behalf of dairy farmers, has increased its investment in the environment by over 60 percent to $11m this financial year, with key projects under way.
In the Upper Waikato, 700 farmers are working collectively to improve the health of the Waikato River, with more than 3000 actions on-farm already underway. Similar work is happening around Lake Rotorua, the Manawatu River, the Hurunui River and the Waituna Lagoon.
"We are working openly and constructively with every regional council in the country", says Dr Pridmore.
"We are confident that this partnership will achieve a positive outcome for our communities, our economy and our environment."
For other expert commentary on this report, go to the Science Media Centre.