PM, Minister hammer home message on dirty dairying
Wed, 06 May 2009 12:00a.m.
Agriculture Minister David Carter says no farmer has a right to pollute - and that most farmers agree with him.
The minister told the dairy industry last night that it needs to show leadership over environmental sustainability, especially in water use and water quality.
And Prime Minister John Key told the same gathering the industry needed to take responsibility as a guardian of the environment.
"It is important that farmers step up and take leadership on meeting some of the environmental challenges that will shape the future of your industry," he said.
Both men were speaking at the launch of the latest dairy industry strategy at Parliament. It called for a shift from a prime focus on boosting production to a more holistic approach to farming systems.
"Dairy farmers must remain focused on resilient farming systems with relatively low fixed costs," the strategy said.
Despite the two politicians' comments, there was limited mention of cleaning up "dirty dairying" in the five key goals set out for the next decade:
* increasing on-farm profitability,
* ensuring an internationally competitive milk supply,
* enhancing the industry's reputation locally and globally,
* and attracting talented, skilled people into the industry, and
* achieving a strong industry-Government partnership.
Mr Carter said that since he was an associate minister of agriculture a decade ago, there had been a global shift in concern for environmental sustainability.
"The dairy industry needs to understand this concern -- because to ignore it is not an option," he said.
The minister warned that there was a sense in the 28-page strategy "that achieving environmental sustainability for dairying is seen as essentially an issue of compliance with central and local government priorities".
"I would argue for a much better and proactive approach," he said. "The dairy industry needs to accept ownership of its environmental performance".
The sector should not see it as a compliance matter, but as an integral part of its future business success.
"This Government's clear preference is for voluntary industry-led environmental management but if the sector is not responsive, we will act," he said.
"No farmer has the right to pollute.
"Most farmers agree with me".
The challenge was to stop the small number of dairy farmers who ignored environmental standards from damaging the industry's reputation.
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