Few Otago dairy farms found to be breaking rules

The inspection regime in Otago for dairy farm compliance with environmental regulations was disrupted by Covid-19 but — of the farms audited in the past year — few fell foul of the rules.

Otago Regional Council carried out 268 audits in the 2019-20 financial year, covering more than half of the region’s dairy farms.

That was a lower number than planned, because of a lack of site visits during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The region has 479 known dairy farms.

Nine properties were found to be moderately or significantly non-compliant on the first inspection.

Nobody was prosecuted, although an infringement notice and a formal warning were issued. Other properties were re-inspected or education measures were used.

Council staff found there was a better understanding this year of risks associated with irrigation.

In North Otago, some new effluent ponds helped.

Inspectors noted potential problems ranging from inadequate infrastructure in low-lying areas to landowners providing sharemilkers with too little information for compliance.


Less than 60% of farms inspected is an appalling rate. Lockdown or no lockdown. Even those caught breaking the rules just get a slap on the wrist and given "education measures". Farmers are not thick, most of them are very well educated successful business people who know very well what the rules are and what is expected of them. It's not good enough ORC. This just supports the argument that your council has to many conflicts of interest and is soft on farmers.

Goodness! It just shows how the same news can be interpreted completely differently. I was just about to comment that this report shows that 'dirty dairying' is not the huge bogeyman it is assumed to be by some environmental activists. I've worked on a dairy farm and it sure used to be easy to see cows standing in a mud patch. But, when it rains, you get mud patches WITHOUT COWS. I wonder if these reports on the amount of environmental damage caused by cows, particularly with respect to natural waterways, are in the public domain and can be accessed with official information requests. If they are public, it might be easier to establish just how horrid dairy farmers actually are. IF they are. On the contrary, I suspect most would highly value natural water because you can't grow anything without it.

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