Final dirty dairying fine for Crafars

BY TOM FITZSIMONS
Last updated 05:00 10/04/2010
TVNZ

Allan Crafar has received yet another dirty dairying conviction for what a court described as gross pollution.

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The Crafar family has been convicted of dirty dairying for a seventh time in three years – as Allan Crafar refused receivers' demands to leave his farmhouse.

A $45,000 fine was handed down yesterday by the Environment Court in a case taken against Mr Crafar, his brother Frank and wife Elizabeth and their sharemilker, Hermann Kibler, by Horizons Regional Council.

The latest fine was for discharging effluent on to land where it entered a waterway, near Bulls, in 2008. Council spokesman Greg Carlyon said Mr Kibler had managed one of the Crafar family farms in a way that left hectares of land covered in effluent up to 60 centimetres deep. "Evidence from staff identified that less than 5 per cent of the appropriate effluent storage was in place."

Yesterday's conviction was the seventh and last for the Crafars' corporate farming interests after three years, he said. He supported a judge's comment that "a long and sorry history" had come to an end.

However, he said the Crafars were not representative of farmers. "When the vast majority of our consent holders in the dairy industry do an excellent job, it is in no-one's best interest to be supporting the sort of behaviour this case identifies."

Four Crafar companies consisting of 20 farms were placed in receivership last October, owing $200 million to banks and PGG Wrightson.

Receiver Michael Stiassny had offered the Crafars six months of free rent in Rotorua if they left their farm houses in nearby Reporoa.

However, Allan Crafar told Campbell Live last night that, despite yesterday's deadline, he would not be moving out.

"I'm staying put ... Why should we shift off? We're still directors of the company."

His own experience of trying to shift people out of houses showed how difficult it was, he said. "It's damned [difficult] if you get someone out of a house, even if they're just a squatter."

He criticised banks for chasing him and said the receivers should use his family's expertise instead of trying to evict them.

Mr Stiassny could not be reached for comment last night.

Chinese firm Natural Dairy Holdings is bidding for the Crafar farms in receivership. The firm intends to invest $1.5 billion on the farms, as well as spending more money buying other farms in both islands and a further $100b building a dairy plant.

The move has sparked controversy, with some farmers urging Fonterra to buy the farms to stop Chinese dairy interests from setting up shop in New Zealand.

Last year, the Crafars were fined a record $88,500 after the effluent system on a company-owned farm near Hamilton failed.

Crafar farms in Taupo, Hawke's Bay and Reporoa have also been slapped with fines for dirty dairying.

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- The Dominion Post

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