Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spinning on dirty dairying

MAF has released the latest snapshot of progress on its Clean Streams Accord (download here). The government is proudly announcing that farmers are "getting the message" on dirty dairying. But the report tells a different story. According to the table on p6, compliance levels have remained static for the past three years (and have fallen when you look at older reports), while levels of significant non-compliance have risen. The culprit is the Waikato, home to a third of the country's dairy farms, where levels of significant non-compliance have almost trebled in three years, from 10 to 27%. Rather than "getting the message", farmers in this region are polluting worse and faster than ever before.

Its time the government stopped pussyfooting around on this issue. We have environmental standards, and they should be enforced. Farmers who fail to comply should be fined and prosecuted until they do. Repeated non-compliance should be punished with the review and cancellation of resource consents (a power now available thanks to the government's RMA reforms). Anything less is tolerating serious criminal behaviour.