NEW ZEALAND – DairyNZ has welcomed the government’s announcement today of a new fund to promote development of irrigation projects, as part of a range of water initiatives.
“Dairy farming is central to New Zealand’s economy and better use of our abundant freshwater is a key way we can deliver sustainable economic growth,” says DairyNZ Strategy and Investment Leader for Sustainability, Dr Rick Pridmore. “It is good to see government has recognised the contribution increased water availability will make to local economies.
“By supporting new irrigation investment the government is backing agriculture, but also reinforcing that we have to demonstrate we are capable of responsible growth,” says Dr Pridmore. “This is at the core of our work, which acknowledges that dairy farming needs to continue to grow to maintain our international competitiveness and fuel the New Zealand economy, while at the same time reducing its environmental footprint.”
In commenting on the other initiatives, Dr Pridmore says DairyNZ is concerned that the Government has missed an opportunity to place the new National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater in the context of a fully developed land and water strategy for New Zealand.
“More national guidance is necessary, but the NPS still does not get to the heart of how regional councils need to manage catchments in ways that are genuinely sustainable for all stakeholders. However, I hope the continuation of the Land and Water Forum will contribute to resolving these issues.”
DairyNZ also welcomes the new government funding for the clean up of legacy water quality issues and is ready to work with councils to help achieve its aims.
Dr Pridmore says that over the last couple of years DairyNZ, together with dairy companies and Federated Farmers, has already put in place a range of initiatives to improve dairy farming’s environmental performance and these are starting to show results.
“We’ve got an ongoing programme where we’re developing good environmental management tools, to minimise contaminant losses to waterways. We’re working closely with regional councils in areas such as looking at where riparian planting can be used to help improve stream health.
“Regional councils are reporting a preliminary average effluent non-compliance rate of 11 to 12 per cent for this season, which is a marked improvement on the 16 per cent recently reported for the 2009/10 year. And we are working hard to see that figure drop further.
“Whether using irrigation or not, the dairy industry’s commitment is to show that we can farm in a responsible and sustainable way,” says Dr Pridmore.
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