Hundreds of dairy farms fail consent rules

Farmers are being warned by one of their own to "pull up their socks", after a dairying report found almost a third of Canterbury farms are not complying with consent rules.

Environment Canterbury's regional dairy report for the 2012 - 2013 season shows of the 997 monitored farms, 72 per cent, or 717, were fully compliant with the conditions of their resource consents. That was a 2 per cent improvement on the previous season, and a 32 per cent increase from 2006 - 2007.

Another 21.3 per cent, or 212 farms, recorded minor non-compliance while major non-compliance was recorded at 6.8 per cent or 68 farms - a 1.8 per cent decrease on the previous year.

The main reasons for "major" non-compliance were ponding, effluent management plans not completed, consents not being displayed in the dairy shed and exceeding undiluted dairy effluent limits.

Other reasons for non-compliance were nitrogen loading and discharging outside of area.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink said farmers needed to "pull up their socks" when it came to compliance issues.

"People have to realise that we [some farmers] are letting the other people down," he said. "The sooner we can deal with it, the sooner we [farmers] are going to be respected by everyone else."

Leferink said a lot of farms failed on "tick the box" exercises, including not displaying their consents.

Of the region's Canterbury Water Management Strategy zones, Ashburton and Orari-Opihi-Pareora had the highest level of full compliance at 84.2 per cent and 87 per cent respectively.

In Selwyn-Waihora 56.2 per cent of farms, or 106, were fully compliant with all consent conditions, while in Waimakariri it was 52 per cent, or 46 farms, and in Kaikoura it was 56.5 per cent, or 13.

Leferink said in the more compliant areas there was more influence from Fonterra and Westland Milk Products, which both had codes of practice for sustainable and environmentally-friendly dairying.

There were a lot of discussion groups in those areas about dairying practices. Leferink expected compliance rates would steadily increase during the coming years.

The Press