The follow-up to the 2003 Dairying and Clean Streams Accord will focus on choosing targets and demonstrating self-improvement, say representatives from Dairy NZ and Fonterra.
Simon Tucker, general manager for policy and advocacy at Dairy NZ, and John Hutchings, Fonterra’s general manager of sustainability, spoke at the Federated Farmers conference last week about the progress of the new accord. They said the aim is to have the new accord finalised by August.
They said the new accord will focus on “delivery of targets” around effluent management, riparian planting, nutrient management, water use management and conversions. The emphasis will be on ensuring targets are clearly measurable, as well as making sure it the accord is clear and precise.
According to Hutchings, the new accord will also contain some significant differences from the first.
For starters, all relevant companies will be involved this time, not just Fonterra.
Government and regional councils will also be taking a step back – under the new accord they will not be equal partners. There will also be two levels of signatory – accountable, and supporting.
The new accord will also have the potential to deal with other dairy sustainability issues (such as biodiversity) in the future, said Hutchings.
Tucker said the new accord was a message to the New Zealand public that when it comes to the dairy industry’s environmental impact, it's serious about “setting goals, and achieving them”.
However, the pair also stressed that the industry could not be held solely responsible for effects on the water, and as such should not carry all the blame.
This sentiment appeared to be shared by many at the conference, with some raising the issue of “demystifying the public” as to what environmental goals were “unreachable”.
Hutchings said that when it comes to ensuring the measures in the accord are really implemented by farmers, accountability will be key.
“There needs to be pressure from farmers to hold each other accountable.”
But according to him they are on the right track, with non-compliance dropping from 17 percent to 11 percent between 2009-2010.