Big improvement by dairy farmers to protect waterways, says report

Dairy NZ has released its five-year report into the Water Accord agreed to by farmers.

The report shows there have been big improvements, but one Canterbury farmer says there's there's still work to be done. 

Tom Mason's been working harder than ever to clean up his farm and protect our waterways.

"Doing the minimum's not good enough, you know, you need to be doing more than that," he said.

Mason is one of 11,000 farmers who signed the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord in 2013.

The accord is a commitment to improve water quality. 

"We need to be looking forward to make sure we can actually keep farming," says farmer Tom Mason.
"We need to be looking forward to make sure we can actually keep farming," says farmer Tom Mason. Photo credit: Newshub

Six years on, it's the small changes he says have made a big difference - but there's still more to be done.

"There's been really good progress made by farmers, but things move on, so what looked like a good thing five years ago, now we need to do more," said Mason.

Dairy New Zealand released its report today, outlining the efforts farmers have undertaken over the last five years.

They include fencing off 98 percent of significant waterways that are more than a metre wide, and installing bridges and culverts on every regular stock crossing point, to protect water quality.

Greenpeace's Russel Norman agrees these measures will help the problem but said it was time the Government stepped in.

"Just with the size of this industry voluntary measures just won't be enough we actually need strong government regulation," he said.

While 94 percent of dairy farmers were compliant with effluent management, around 750 farms were not, mostly in Waikato and Northland. 

In a statement Dairy NZ said "while the accord targets were met, a minority of farmers are letting everyone else down and need to improve their performance."

Mason agrees and said now's the time for farmers to be innovative, to ensure dairy farming has a future. 

"We need to be looking forward to make sure we can actually keep farming."

Newshub.

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