A new-look tougher version of the Clean Streams Accord has been created by the dairy industry, to improve the environmental performance and image of dairy farmers.
DairyNZ and New Zealand's dairy companies have issued a new blueprint for managing dairy farming's impact on the environment.
DairyNZ chairman John Luxton said it was a "broader and more comprehensive" commitment than the previous Clean Streams Accord.
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord is now out for feedback from farmers and other groups. The aim is for it to be finalised and formally launched in May, in time for the 2013-14 dairy season.
In key changes, all dairy farmers will be included in environmental targets, not just Fonterra suppliers.
All dairy cattle would have to be excluded from waterways and wetlands by set dates, and new independent audits would be introduced to ensure farmers meet the targets and "to ensure transparency and robustness", Luxton said.
The new agreement will replace the Clean Streams Accord, which was developed in 2003 with commitments that ended last year. That accord was between Fonterra, and central and local government.
"We're stepping up as an industry with this new accord to take responsibility for driving change and measuring progress towards our environmental goals," Luxton said. The main signatories to the new accord are DairyNZ, the Dairy Companies Association of NZ and all dairy companies - Fonterra, Miraka, Open Country, Tatua, Synlait and Westland.
Other parties and industry bodies are expected to sign up as friends and supporting partners.
These may include regional councils, iwi, government agencies and the fertiliser and irrigation sector. Federated Farmers has already committed to being a supporting partner.
In a key change, the accord will involve all of New Zealand's 12,000 dairy farmers, not just Fonterra's 10,500 farmer shareholders.
Some companies have already signalled that many of the accord commitments will be conditions of supply specified in supply contracts.
Planting of waterways, environmental standards for converting farms to dairy and improving water and nutrient use efficiency are included for the first time.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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