Dairy farm effluent risk list issued by ORC

Peter Bodeker.
Peter Bodeker.
A list of farms at risk of breaching environmental rules has been provided to dairy industry representatives, an Otago Regional Council report says.

The move was part of the ORC's collaborative approach with the industry to improve water quality, council chief executive Peter Bodeker said.

But he warned enforcement and prosecution remained part of the mix.

The ORC recently hosted a meeting of southern industry representatives in Dunedin.

The meeting discussed ways to support landholders who the council had identified as being at risk of non-compliance over control of effluent run-off and ponding.

The external agencies making up the dairy industry stakeholder group played a valuable role helping farmers meet their Otago water plan obligations, Mr Bodeker said.

The group included representatives of the ORC, Federated Farmers, DairyNZ and dairy companies Fonterra and Open Country Dairy.

Industry representatives were prepared to work with individual landholders to provide more support and advice, he said.

''The rules are the rules'' and while the ORC hoped to reduce the number of times it had to prosecute, it would continue monitoring and enforcement, he said.

In an earlier mid-year report, Mr Bodeker said over the past two years the council had moved to use diversion, allowing the court to impose a requirement to ''make structural changes at farm level''.

It enabled some people to avoid a criminal conviction.

Mr Bodeker said at that earlier ORC meeting Environment Southland used a collaborative system'' to engage with dairy companies, Federated Farmers and other rural organisations, which negotiated and agreed on changes on the farm, should the operator breach consent conditions.

Under this model, DairyNZ/Fonterra helped in making the necessary farm changes, and Environment Southland did not prosecute.

In a report to be tabled at today's ORC meeting, Mr Bodeker said a list of farms ORC considered to be at high risk of potentially breaching ORC's prohibited-activity rules, ''due to the level of infrastructure on the farm and property drainage'', had been shared with Otago dairy industry representatives.

The organisations would discuss the state of infrastructure with the farmers ''during their normal interaction with them'', Mr Bodeker said.


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