Dairying and Clean Streams Accord (2011)

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Importance of Dairy industry

Dairying is one of the biggest industries in New Zealand and is an integral part of the country's economy. While agriculture has always been part of the back bone of the New Zealand economy this was once largely comprised of sheep and beef production. However the price collapse of the market for sheep and beef in the 80's made way for the rise in dairying which has been on the increase since then and has effectively taken over the industry. The boom in dairy payouts saw an enormous rise in conversion rates from sheep farming to dairying which has become the dominant agricultural production system.

In December 2010 The New Zealand institute of Economic Research estimated that the dairy industry in New Zealand contribute around 2.8% to the countries gross domestic product <ref>www.maf.govt.nz/agriculture/pastoral/dairy.aspx</ref>. The dairy industry also contributes 10.4 billion dollars in export earnings to New Zealands economy every year.New Zealands dairy exports accounts for about one third of all cross boarder trades in dairy products. New Zealands main export markets for dairy products are China, the USA, Japan, and the EU<ref>www.maf.govt.nz/agriculture/pastoral/dairy.aspx</ref>. Over the past twenty years dairy production in New Zealand has risen by over 77%, and the number of dairy cows has increased from around three million twenty years ago to now be around six million<ref>www.maf.govt.nz/agriculture/pastoral/dairy.aspx</ref>.

Environmental effects of dairying

While agricultural production boosts the New Zealand economy, this comes at the cost of the environment. Anything where intensive production is the main aim, there are environmental impacts and farming is no exception. While sheep farming was damaging to the environment, the intensification of dairying has had far more drastic effects.

Effluent which is produced by dairy cows is high in phosphorus and nitrogen. Much of this effluent makes it's way into water ways via run off and leeching. As a result of this many waterways in and around areas of dairy farming become nutrient rich, this allows for the growth of algal blooms which can starve the waterways of much needed oxygen<ref>www.forestandbird.org.nz/saving-our-environment/threats-and-/threats-impacts-agriculture</ref>.

Fertilizers are used on farms to improve pasture, however fertilizers are high in nitrogen and phosphorus and therefore can have detrimental effects on waterways. Fertilizers often get into water ways through runoff, or by leeching through groundwater. They can cause the growth of algal blooms in the waterways which can deplete the water of oxygen, and thus make the river uninhabitable for fish species.

Dairying can also have an effect on waterways through how water is used. Often dairy farms use river water to irrigate pasture for dairying. This can often leave the waterways depleted. It is believed that it takes around 900 liters of water to produce around one liter of milk<ref>www.forestandbird.org.nz/saving-our-environment/threats-and-/threats-impacts-agriculture</ref>. The excessive removal of water can leave streams and rivers with less water to dilute the effects of chemical fertilizers and effluent.

Algal blooms, depleted systems of water, as well as poor oxygenation are all the negative effects which dairying can have on rivers and streams. These can all cause rivers to become unihabitable for fresh water species. Twenty-nine fresh water fish species are now on the threatened species list, thats around 90% of all natives fresh water species of fish in New Zealand<ref>www.forestandbird.org.nz/saving-our-environment/threats-and-/threats-impacts-agriculture</ref>.


With the change in farming practices, the environment has seen significant changes to the biodiversity of agricultural farming land. As biodiversity hinges on human activity, farming practices have significant impacts on biodiversity.

Example of the close proximity of dairy farming to waterways

There are varying ways of measure biodiversity in terms of genetic behaviour, species in an area and ecosystem states.However there are also different understandings of good biodiversity practices of different people. For example there are disparities between what farmers believe to be successful land and sufficient ecosystems and biodiversity than what environmentalists would see successful.

Farmers generally believe agricultural land to be successful when paddocks are neat and tidy, where marsh and bog areas are minimal or non-existent and where weeds and other plants they don't consider to contribute to farmland are eradicated.

However environmentalists believe the inclusion of different vegetation and aspects of natural land formations such as bogs and marshes are essential to the create ecosystems.

This is related to the change the New Zealand landscape has seen in the past. Farming, in New Zealand's short history, has become a major economic practice. In this time the landscape has been drastically changed as land has been cultivated for farming. This has decreased ecosystems and biodiversity of the land. However the baseline of this is changed as farming continues through generations. It is now at the point where current farming practices of "tidy" farms are considered the best farming practices despite beliefs of environmentalists.

Background of the Accord

The Dairying and clean streams accord 2003 was set up because of increasing public and industry awareness of the detrimental effects of land use intensification and practices of dairy farming. It is important to note the accord was driven by Fish and Game New Zealand rather than governmental influence. They were a key part in raising this awareness as leading a campaign known as the "Dirty Dairying Campaign". This campaign followed a time where there had been significant developments of dairying in areas of the country which had traditionally been non dairying, such areas of Southland and Cantebury<ref>www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/land/dairying-clean-streams-monitoring-reporting-strategy-apr06/html/page2.html.</ref>. Before this and continuing, dairy operations were often exempt from needing resource consents. There was a clear aim to make dairy farmers accountable for the use of water systems and their operations.


The Dairying and clean streams accord 2003 was set up by Fonterra Co-operative group, regional councils and unitary authorities, the ministry for the environment and forestry. The accord aims achieve 'clean and healthy water' which includes streams, rivers, lakes, as well as ground water and wetlands. Accord type waterways are defined to be 'deeper than a "Red Band" (ankle deep) "wider than a stride", and permanently flowing. This definition is an example that the accord is accessible and relevant to the target group, giving measurements that farmers can easily identify with. The accord also has the aim to have water where appropriate for: fish, drinking by stock, and also contact recreation such as swimming. The ambiguity of these terms, the fact they are not clearly defined allows room for different interpretations.

Goals (targets)

The Accord set out targets to reach which were of a minimal standards. Achievements that exceeded these targets or were achieved more quickly were encouraged. There was a reasonable amount of flexibility allowed for within the accord between regions providing targets were still being met at the minimal standard.

The accord sets out five targets focusing on the stock access to waterways, restrictions and fencing of stock access and nutrient levels of water.

PERFORMANCE TARGET 1: Dairy Cattle excluded from 50% of streams, rivers and lakes by 2007, 90% by 2012.

PERFORMANCE TARGET 2: 50% of regular crossing points have bridges or culverts by 2007, 90% by 2012.

PERFORMANCE TARGET 3: 100% of dairy effluent discharges to comply with resource consents and regional plans immediately.

PERFORMANCE TARGET 4: 100% of dairy farms to have in place systems to manage nutrient inputs and outputs by 2007.

PERFORMANCE TARGET 5: 50% of regionally significant wetlands to be fenced by 2005, 90% by 2007.



Regional Councils

The 16 regional councils and unitary authorities of mainland New Zealand are primarily responsible for environmental management, including water, contaminant discharge, regional land management and river and lake management. There is often a great deal of mediation between regional and territorial councils as they have complementary roles <ref> Councils' Roles and Functions, Local Government New Zealand, 2011. Accessed 15th September, 2011</ref>. The role of Regional councils under the Accord is to assist in its implementation by developing regional action plans in coordination with Fonterra. These action plans identify local commitments and describe targets for the priority actions. They also have inputs from local Federated Farmers representatives<ref> Regional action plan for the Wellington region: dairying and clean streams accord, Greater Wellington Regional Council, 2004 </ref>. Regional councils are responsible for providing information to identify regionally significant wetlands, water bodies suitable for swimming and priority catchments within the region. Regional councils must coordinate with Fonterra to provide information and advice to farmers and liaise with field staff who work directly with dairy farmers. In addition, they may make changes to regional plans and can develop council managed incentive schemes in order to support actions under the Accord. Many councils offer practical workshops on effluent management, additional inspections and extra support to help ensure compliance<ref> Media release: Dairy farmers must step up to reduce pollution, Local Government, 2010</ref>. For example, in 2003 the Greater Wellington Regional Council released its Riparian Management Strategy for promoting the appropriate management of riparian areas on private land. The council provides information and advice to landowners as well as funding for re-vegetating the riparian areas of high value streams<ref> Greater Wellington Regional Council, Regional action plan for the Wellington region: dairying and clean streams accord 2004</ref>. Regional councils are also responsible for developing a protocol for evaluating, reporting and reviewing the action plans <ref> Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, Ministry for the Environment, 2003</ref>.

Ministry of the Environment

The Ministry for the Environment was established under the Environment Act 1986 and advises the government on environmental laws, policies, standards and guidelines. In addition, it is the principal advisor on international matters that affect the environment. Its focus is to provide environmental management systems, national direction, guidance and training on best practice and information about the health of the environment<ref> About the Ministry for the Environment, MfE, 2011 Accessed 15th September 2011</ref>. In 2003 the Environment Minister signed the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, committing MfE to the Accord and its targets. As part of this commitment, MfE’s role is to keep stakeholders including ministers, national representative bodies and the public fully informed of progress. They also facilitate the development of tools to assist with implementing the Accord, including farmer training, bridge and culvert design guidelines, model rules for regional plans, and identifying legislative and institutional barriers to effective implementation. MfE is primarily responsible for monitoring overall progress towards the Accord targets. In collaboration with MAF, Fonterra and regional councils, MfE is also in charge of assessing science and research needs for the Accord <ref> Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, Ministry for the Environment, 2003</ref>.

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

MAF works across the primary sector from producers through to retailers and consumers and is responsible for ensuring the sustainable development of primary industries, fisheries and aquaculture management, biosecurity, state owned forest management, animal welfare and food regulation. MAFs outcomes include sustainable economic growth and enhanced economic, social and cultural benefits from the environment <ref> About MAF, MAF, 2011, Accessed 15th September 2011</ref>. Under the Accord, their responsibilities are very similar to those of the MfE. MAF will publicly support the Accord, and keep ministers, national representative bodies and the public fully informed of progress. They also facilitate the development of tools to assist the implementation of the Accord, and identify and promote ways to overcome any legislative and institutional barriers to its implementation. In addition, MAF is responsible for producing and publishing annual progress reports on the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord in with input from Fonterra, Fish and Game, Forest and Bird and MfE <ref> [The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of progress 2009-2010], MAF, 2010</ref>

Fonterra Co-operative Group

Fonterra, founded in 2001, is a world leading exporter of dairy products. It is a co-operative company in which all its farmers are shareholders, and represents around 96% of all dairy farmers in New Zealand.<ref> http://www.fonterra.com/wps/wcm/connect/fonterracom/fonterra.com/our+business/fonterra+at+a+glance/about+us/our+history, Fonterra. Accessed 19th September 2011.</ref> As the company with a monopoly on New Zealand’s dairy industry, Fonterra play a key role in the implementation and success of the Accord alongside the relevant government agencies. They:

    • Develop regional action plans with regional councils which identify commitments, targets, and methods
    • Provide leadership and support to all Fonterra supplying farmers by supplying information, management programmes, self-assessment schemes, and backing environmental research
    • Provide annual progress reports

Fonterra work alongside other dairy representatives such as DairyNZ, Federated Farmers, and Irrigation New Zealand to provide management information and assistance to farmers, aiming to increase irrigation, effluent, and general on farm efficiency.<ref>http://www.fonterra.com/wps/wcm/connect/fonterracom/fonterra.com/Our+Business/Sustainability/Water/, Fonterra. Accessed 20th September 2011.</ref> A key aim of the industry is to 'affect behavioural change' within the dairy farming community from the top down, which they see as a vital move toward more environmentally friendly farming practices.<ref>http://www.ifs.org.nz/assets/Uploads/Dairy-Sector-sustainability-commitments-4.pdf, Integrated Freshwater Solutions. Accessed 3rd October 2011.</ref>

While Fonterra continues to state that they take water pollution seriously, opponents such as the Green Party claim that they 'do not put their money where their mouth is', and need to impose fines on non complying farmers, making dirty dairying uneconomic in itself.<ref>http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/fonterra-must-act-dirty-dairying-protect-new-zealand, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Accessed 20th September 2011.</ref>


DairyNZ is an industry organization created in 2007 to represent dairy farmers. Their purpose is to secure and enhance the profitability, sustainability and competitiveness of New Zealand dairy farming. They fund research and consult with farmers to provide the information and tools required to gain best practice farming. They also advocate to the government on behalf of the industry to ensure desirable polices. <ref>http://www.dairynz.co.nz/page/pageid/2145855891/Who_we_are, DairyNZ. Accessed 19th September 2011.</ref> In terms of the Clean Streams Accord, DairyNZ work with Fonterra to assist farmers in adopting practices which will improve water quality, through programmes such as the Smart Water Use programme which aims for improved water efficiency for stock and in-shed (cleaning and milk cooling systems) water systems.<ref>http://www.fonterra.com/wps/wcm/connect/fonterracom/fonterra.com/Our+Business/Sustainability/Water/, Fonterra. Accessed 19th September 2011.</ref>, as well as Clean Streams Guides created for each dairying region which provides guidelines and practical methods for managing waterways on farms. DairyNZ also focuses on providing guidelines for effluent and nutrient management. In this way, they aim to both reduce runoff sources and enhance waterway protection. <ref>http://www.dairynz.co.nz/page/pageid/2145866686/Effluent_Systems, DairyNZ. Accessed 19th September 2011.</ref>

Federated Farmers

Federated Farmers has represented all New Zealand farmers for over 60 years. It is made up of chairpeople from seven industry groups representing the specific interests of each agricultural sub section, and campaigns and consults on behalf of all sectors of the agricultural industry, to ensure they have a voice in the face of any issues which may effect their economic viability. Their aim is ‘to influence local and central government, the wider industry and community groups’.<ref>http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/industry/dairy, Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Accessed 18th September 2011.</ref> With this aim in mind, their obvious suspicion of some environmental advocates such as the Green Party and the Department of Conservation makes sense (see ‘Dairy on the up' - speech by Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson at the Dairy council meeting in Ashburton on 17 February 2011, <ref>http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/industry/dairy, Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Accessed 18th of September 2011.</ref> and their proposed amendments to the role of DOC in the RMA <ref>http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/n184.html, Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Accessed 18th of September 2011.</ref>).

In relation to the Clean Streams Accord, Federated Farmers works with its industry partners such as Fonterra and DairyNZ, focusing specifically on reducing significant non-compliance with relevant resource consents on dairy farms.<ref>http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/cleanstreams, Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Accessed 18th of September 2011.</ref> They provide the majority opinion of the farmers on the Accord, with the federations chairperson Lachlan McKenzie saying in 2010 that most farmers were serious about improving their environmental footprint on waterways, and were disappointed by the minority who were found to be non-compliant in the 2008/09 report.<ref>http://www.fedfarm.org.nz/dairysopen,Federated Farmers of New Zealand. Accessed 18th of September 2011.</ref> Federated Farmers is also part of the ‘Primary Sector Water Partnership’, an organization set up by primary sector groups to proactively improve water management across the board. This group is made up of groups such as the New Zealand Forest Owners Association, Irrigation New Zealand Incorporated, and Dairy and Farming organisations such as Fonterra, DairyNZ and Meat and Wool New Zealand.


New Zealand Fish and Game

Fish and Game New Zealand is a public entity council established in 1990 which represents the interests of anglers and hunters, and plays the statutory role of managing all fish and game sports under the Conservation Act 1987. They report to the Ministry of Conservation, but are not government funded. In-keeping with their interests, Fish and Game aim to maintain and enhance the sustainability of natural habitats that support the species they like to hunt. For fishing, this means focusing on the water quality in lakes, streams and wetlands, and preventing over extraction, pollution and development. This is mainly done by engaging in the resource consent process. The interests of Fish and Game are taken into account in regional and district plans. They also consult with councils and other parties, and have the ability to impose conditions on consents to ensure damage to water habitats is minimized.<ref>http://www.fishandgame.org.nz/Site/Features/FGpositions.aspx#Positions4, Fish and Game New Zealand. Accessed 1st October 2011.</ref>

Fish and Games attitude to agriculture is that it ‘is affecting the raw material (the habitat) of Fish and Game’s core business’.<ref>http://www.fishandgame.org.nz/Site/Features/FGpositions.aspx#Positions4, Fish and Game New Zealand. Accessed 1st October 2011.</ref> Fish and Game view any threat by agriculture to the environment as a direct affront to their legitimacy. Thus, it believes that as a statutory body charged with the task of managing, maintaining, and improving fishing sports, that it has a duty to challenge any threat to the sustainability of the water habitats and their sport.

Fish and Game acted on this stance, undertaking the ‘dirty dairying’ campaign which kick started the creation of the Clean Stream Accord. This campaign aimed to alert the public to water pollution by diary farms, and put pressure on the government and the dairy industry to deal with the issue. Media reporting of high profile cases of dirty dairying such as that of the Crafar family as well as reports by as NIWA and Fish and Game into the state of New Zealand’s surface water bodies were the main tactics used.<ref>Larne, S.T., Scarsbrook M.R., Snelder T.H., Norton N.J. and Biggs B.J.F (2004) 'Water quality in low-elevation streams and rivers of New Zealand: recent state and trends in contrasting land-cover classes'. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38 (2), 347-366.</ref>

They view the Clean Streams Accord as an inadequate tool to deal with the effect dairying has on waterways, believing that the voluntary nature of the accord renders it useless, and that its goals are incomplete and only aim to improve some aspects of dairying’s degradation of the environment. Fish and Game further believe it is the duty of the dairying industry, especially leading bodies such as DairyNZ and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand, to deal with any associated waterway degradation. They continue to put pressure on the industry to improve with continued reports critiquing the accords progress.

Other stakeholders

Quality Consultants of New Zealand (QCONZ) is a privately owned company that operates in the primary industry focusing on the delivery of quality based auditing and advisory services to the primary industry, especially in the dairy, food, fertiliser and beef sectors. In the dairy industry, QCONZ helps farm managers to meet the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord requirements by providing on farm auditing and advisory services, not only by checking systems but also providing on-going systems development and consultancy.<ref> QCONZ Services: Dairy industry, QCONZ, 2011, Accessed 15th September 2011</ref>

NIWA, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, is a Crown Research Institute established in 1992. NIWA operates as a government owned research facility that focuses on the quality of water and atmospheric conditions within New Zealand. NIWA produces annual reports including fresh-water and stream reports in order to assist the Ministry of Environment in decision making. The National River Water Quality Network (NRWQN) is New Zealand’s most comprehensive freshwater quality monitoring network. The NRWQN consists of 77 sites on 35 rivers that are evenly distributed over New Zealand. The sites and variables measured were carefully selected after reviews of networks in other countries and consideration of their relevance to New Zealand. <ref> [http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/freshwater/common-questions/all/how-do-we-gauge-the-state-of-new-zealandas-overall-water- qualityefc7 National River Quality Network (NRWQN) Science Centres: Freshwater, NIWA, Accessed 27 September 2011 </ref> This information is then correlated for the MfE.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, as political lobbyers for the environment, have been vocal in their critique of the Clean Streams Accord. In March 2011 they stated that the rising levels of significant non-compliance noted in 'The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord Snapshot of Progress 2009/10' proved that the accord was failing to protect the quality of New Zealand's waterways. Like Fish and Game and Forest and Bird, they have called for the government to lead the way by adopting enforced clean water rules, such as those laid out in the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management which they are currently encouraging the Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, to sign.<ref>http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/clean-streams-accord-progress-report-shows-we-need-clean-water-rules-now, Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. Accessed 3rd of October 2011.</ref>

Monitoring and Assessing of the Accord

The current monitoring of the Accord is based on assessing progress against management practice 'inputs' that have been specified in the Accord.

Criticisms of Monitoring and Assessment

Reporting of progress towards the Accord’s targets has been inconsistent between regions. It has been identified that most regional councils have not identified regionally important wetlands and many wetlands still remain unfenced which means that stock can pollute the water through defecation.<ref> http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/land/rural/dairying.html.</ref>

An acknowledged criticism by Forest & Bird and Fish & Game has criticized the Accord for failing to adequately measure and achieve improved water quality.The report criticises a lack of independent assessment of the self-reporting of farmers, a failure to meet principle targets, inconsistency in reporting progress, and the use of inappropriate measures in progress reports.

It is difficult to link the implementation of the Accord with measurable effects in watercourses. There are numerous factors that affect water quality and biology of streams, therefore it is not easy to separate what might be benefits from the Accord and the background ‘noise’ due to all of the factors.

Present Assessment

Present assessment on progress towards meeting the agreed targets for the five elements of the Accord is predominantly by farmer self reporting, with some auditing carried out on behalf of Fonterra. The present monitoring of Accord 'inputs' is undertaken by two independent assessors. These are Agri Quality and Quality Consultant New Zealand. They carry out a verbal assessment at the time of Fonterra suppliers' annual dairy farm assessment. Both of these companies have existing relationships with farmers as they are contracted by Fonterra to report on management of milk quality. <ref> http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/land/dairying-clean-streams-monitoring-reporting-strategy-apr06/html/page1.html.</ref>

The Ministry for the Environment has a co-ordinating and overview role for monitoring under the Accord. The Accord sets targets out to 2012. Regional councils are beginning to establish long term monitoring programmes that will advise the partners of the success or otherwise of the actions of all parties. Furthermore, the Ministry for the Environment has set out a recommended Monitoring and reporting strategy for the Dairying and Clean streams accord.

Monitoring and assessment of the accords progress has been developed to provide recommendations in two ways:

The Monitoring programme in the study catchment involves three main elements:

On-Farm Environmental Assessments

Fonterra has implemented On-Farm Environmental Assessments. This provides data to measure progress against Accord targets. The 99 percent participation rate is consistent with previous years. The On-Farm Assessment is a useful tool to monitor improvement and review where additional regional resources and actions are required.

Fonterra frequently commissions independent auditing. Randomly selected farms are visited by independent auditors. The audit involves a farm inspection and detail discussions with each farmer to verify information provided in the On-Farm Assessment. GIS aerial mapping technology provided by regional councils enables auditors to indentify and measure lengths of Accord-type waterways, stock crossings and positions of effluent management systems.

Thirteen of the 16 regional councils in New Zealand have significant numbers of Fonterra dairy suppliers in the region. From 2,000 in Taranaki and over 4,400 in the Waikato. Of the 13 regions with Fonterra suppliers, 12 have now completed a Regional Action Plan (RAP).

The RAPs contains detail that aims to encourage farmers to implement good farming practice in line with the Accord’s objective Includes provisions of advice, encouragement of best management practices (BMP), incentive and funding schemes for riparian tree planting. The plans commit Fonterra and regional authorities to carry out particular actions in each region. The 12 RAPs outline how progress towards the meeting the Accord targets will be monitored. These primarily focus on the measurement of the five ‘inputs’ to the accord


Progress Reports

Reporting on the progress being made under the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord is undertaken on a regular basis. These reports provide, which a prepared by the Ministry for Agriculture and Fisheries and Fonterra, have been released annually since the Accord was enacted in May 2003. These reports provide a "snapshot" of progress for the respective 12 month period, reporting on the progress being made against the targets set out by the Accord <ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2004)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2003/04. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. </ref><ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2005)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2004/05. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref><ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2006)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2005/06. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref><ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2007)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2006/07. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref><ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2008)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2007/08. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref><ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2009)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2008/09. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref><ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2010)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2009/10. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref>.

Photo of a riparian strip as shown in the 2009/10 Progress Report

These progress reports appear to be focused on changing the perception people have of the dairy industry, rather than reporting clear information on the progress happening under the Accord. In many instances these reports are deceptive, self-congratulatory and selective in the information which is shared. One example of the deceptive nature of these reports is the figures quoted in regards to Target 4 of the Accord. The percentage of farms quoted as having a nutrient management system in place, is actually those who have completed a nutrient budget <ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2010)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2009/10. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref>. While having a nutrient budget is an important first step towards the development of a nutrient management system, it is not a nutrient management system. Using this percentage is therefore deceptive, suggesting far more progress than has actually been made with regards to this target. Suspicion is also raised with regards to this target in the jump in percentage of farms with a nutrient budget in place from 33% in 2005/06 to 97% in 2006/07 as seen in Table 3.2. Between these years the source of data changed,using data from Fert Research instead of Fonterra's On-farm Environmental Assessment. The new data suggested far greater percentages than the data collected using the On-farm Environmental Assessment (97% vs. 64% respectively). It appears that those putting together the report have selected the data set which shows the most progress towards the respective goal. Another example of this kind of reporting is the use of photos. Use of photos, such as the example to the right, appears to be very selective with photos included only of best practice. Using only these photos of best practice, even though such sites may be limited, gives the impression of more progress than may actually be the case. The idea that these reports are used primarily as a public relations tool is further supported by the involvement of a staff member with a diploma in communications and public relations <ref> Morgan, J. (2008) 'Review critical of polution report', The Press, November 10. </ref>.

Progress Against Targets

Table 4.1: Progress against targets 2007/08 - 2009/10 <ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2010)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2009/10. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref>.


The progess against the first four targets set out by the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, as stated in the 2009/2010 Snapshot of Progress (the most recent progrss report) is given in the table above. This only gives figures on progress back to the 2007/2008 year, thus the equivalent table from the 2008/2009 report which gives data from all the previous progress reports is also given below.

Table 4.2: Progress against targets 2003/04 - 2008/09 <ref>Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (2009)Dairying and Clean Streams Accord: Snapshot of Progress - 2008/09. Wellington: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.</ref>.


The first target set out in the Accord is for dairy cattle to be excluded from 50% of Accord-type streams, rivers and lakes by 2007, rising to 90% by 2012. The 2007 target of 50% was exceeded after only 12 months, with cattle excluded from 54% of Accord-type streams after the first year. This suggests the 2007 target for cattle exclusion from streams was set too low. However, since this time there has been a steady increase in the percentage of streams from which cattle have been excluded, with an average increase in dairy-cattle exclusion from Accord-type streams of just over 5% per year from 2003/04 to 2009/10. At the time of the final progress report dairy-cattle had been excluded from 85% of Accord-type streams, suggesting it is likely that the 2012 target of exclusion from 90% of streams will also be met. Such progress shows the Accord has been very successful with respect to achieving this goal, and also highlights the importance of having the longer term goal set for 2012. Had there only been a goal for 2007, which was reached in the first year, progress may have slumped once this target was reached.

The second target set out by the Accord - that 50% of regular crossing points have bridges or culverts by 2007, and 90% by 2012 - was easily reached. The 2012 target was met within the first 12 months, with 92% of regular stream crossing points having bridges or culverts by the 2003/2004 year. Progress in the initial stages appears to have been rapid, with progress sowing off to reach 99% by 2008/09. This suggests the Accord has been very successful in increasing the number of regular stream crossings which have been bridged. However, reaching the target set for a nine year perios within one year suggests the goals for both 2007 and 2012 were set far too low. It may also suggest that inadequate research was conducted prior to setting the targets and the percentage of regular crossing points over Accord-type streams which had bridges or culverts may have been higher than was initially thought.

The third target set out by the Accord states that ‘all dairy farm effluent discharge is to comply with resource consents and regional plans immediately’. Regional councils around New Zealand have set out different rules for dairy effluent and levels of dairying in their region – therefore ways on monitoring an area vary between regions. However, all councils use the same criteria to classify the compliance of dairy farm effluent.

  • Full compliance - where the rules in the Accord are being fully complied with
  • Non-compliance – where a rule has not been complied with but there has been no discharge to water.
  • Significant non-compliance – where a discharge has entered or is likely to enter water

Full compliance has increased from 60 in 2008/2009 to 65 percent in 2009/2010. The rate of full compliance has improved in eight regions with significant improvements in Wellington and Otago. Between 2008/2009 to 2009/2010 full compliance has increased by 72% to 89% in Wellington, and 75% to 95% in Otago. The levels of significant non-compliance are still a major concern, increasing from 12% in 2007/2008 to 16% in 2009/2010. The government has introduced several new initiatives to improve non-compliance in the hope of improving compliance rates.

Table 4.3: Regional dairy effluent compliance for the 2007/08 to 2009/10 seasons. Table3.3.jpg

The fourth target set out by the Accord states that ‘all dairy farms to have in place systems to manage nutrient inputs and outputs by 2007’. Figures from the Environmental and Animal Welfare Assessment Report 2009/2010 show the number of farmers with a nutrient budget is at 99 percent. Through the Accord, Fonterra, the fertiliser industry and DairyNZ are continuing to ensure that these budgets are being used as part of a wider nutrient management system. Fonterra and the fertiliser industry have also been providing farmers with tools to manage their nutrient budget.

The fifth target set out by the Accord states that ‘50 percent of regionally significant wetland are to be fenced by 2005, rising to 90 percent by 2007’. Figures from the 2009/2010 report show that nine regional councils have defined and identified their “regionally significant wetlands”. Two of these regional councils met the 2005 target of 50 percent while Taranaki has met the 2007 target of 90 percent. The Accord Progress Report states that this data is difficult to assess as a number of regional councils lack data on how many Regionally Significant Wetlands are fenced.

Compliance and Effectiveness

The Accord's objective is to contribute toward clean, healthy freshwater resources including streams, rivers, lakes, groundwater, and wetlands in dairying areas <ref>[http://media.nzherald.co.nz/webcontent/document/pdf/201112/Dairy-clean-streams-2010-FINAL.pdf, Progress Report 2009-2010.</ref>. The Accord has set five targets for farmers to achieve this objective. Has the accord been effective in achieveing a higher water quality for New Zealand? To answer this question we will look at the compliance of regions and then compare that to their water quality, focusing specifically on certain regions such as Waikato, Southland and Taranaki. This is because Waikato and Southland are intensive dairy farming regions, and Taranaki is special because it's Council have developed their own water plans that need to be achieved.


The progress of regions to comply with the Accord is noted above. A general over-view is provided here:<ref>[http://media.nzherald.co.nz/webcontent/document/pdf/201112/Dairy-clean-streams-2010-FINAL.pdf.</ref>

  • The stock access to water-ways goal for 2007 has been achieved by all regions. Further, four regions have also completed the 2012 goal of having 90 percent of their Accord type streams, rivers and lakes excluded from dairy cattle. These regions are; Southland, Otago, Northland and Canterbury.
  • The 2012 Accord target of having 90 percent of regular crossing points to have bridges or culverts has now been achieved and exceeded by all regions.
  • The third goal of having all dairy farm effluence discharge complying with resource consents and regional plans immediately is assessed in terms of full compliance, non-compliance, and significant non-compliance. For the regions, as a whole, 65 percent of dairy farms have full compliance with this goal. Across the country full compliance varied from 39 percent to 96 percent. The three lowest regions for full compliance were; Southland on 39 percent, Northland on 43 percent and Waikato on 52 percent. Taranaki was the highest region on 96% for full compliance.
  • The fourth goal was for all dairy farms to have in place systems to manage nutrient inputs and outputs by 2007. Currently 99 percent of dairy farms over all the regions have a nutrient budget. However note that this is not the same as a “system”, and is critiqued above.
  • The fifth goal was for 50% of regional significant wetlands to be fenced by 2005, and 90% by 2007. Nine councils have identified their significant wetlands, however only two (Bay of Plenty and Horizon's) have met the 2005 goal. Taranaki is the only region to have achieved the 2007 goal.

From this snapshot of progress for the 2009-2010 year, it is illustrated that most goals have been achieved significantly. Although goals three, four and five have not had full compliance, yet, there still has been significant work towards them. Has this compliance, with the Accord, achieved anything?


Firstly looking at the Southland region, which has complied with the majority of the Accord goals. Environment Southland monitors stream and river health across the region to assess the current state of the water quality. Environment Southland's annual report illustrates that areas in Southland, which are primarily dairy areas, have a higher level of nutrients in the water than other areas. These areas also generally had high levels of faecal coliforms. Waimatuku, a strong dairying industry area, is an example of this. It had nutrient levels five times higher than that of less intensively farmed dairy areas such as Manapouri <ref>[http://www.es.govt.nz/media/9184/river-and-stream-health-es-aemr-09-10.pdf, Environment Southland.</ref>. Therefore at a glance the threat to water quality posed by the dairying industry would appear to be significant. However, over time, has the accord improved the water quality? Comparing the 2007 and 2009 River Quality reports from Southland, it is illustrated that in areas such as Waimatuku the quality of water has decreased because the levels of nitrates and phosphorus have increased by up to point five percent. Further the significant wetland area of Waituna, which should be fenced off pursuant to goal five, is experiencing the same issues as Waimatuku <ref>[http://www.es.govt.nz/media/9364/river-and-stream-health-es-aemr-07-08.pdf, River and Stream Health 2007-2008, Environment Southland.</ref> <ref>[http://www.es.govt.nz/media/9184/river-and-stream-health-es-aemr-09-10.pdf, River and Stream Health 2009-2010, Environment Southland.</ref> The levels of nitrates and phosphorus in the water are increasing, these come from dairy run-offs, and are information to suggest that the Accord is yet to have a significant impact on the water quality of Southland.


Secondly, looking at the Waikato region, which has complied with the accord in various ways. Waikato is a region that is heavily focused on dairying and therefore will have a larger environmental footprint than less intensive dairying regions. The Progress Report 2004/2005 published by the Ministry for the Environment, shows that of Waikato’s 4256 farms during these years the compliance rate was relatively low at 43% while they also had the highest percent of significant non-compliances 16% <ref> Farmer compliance with dairy effluent resource consents over the 2004/2005 dairying season [1] </ref>. This rate of compliance remained relatively the same during the 2005/2006 period <ref> http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/land/dairying-clean-streams-accord-snapshot-mar07/figure-1.html </ref>, but has since been seen to have significantly increased compliance to 85%, yet it is still one of the lowest compliance rates within the country <ref> http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/land/dairying-clean-streams-accord-snapshot-feb08/html/figure-2.html </ref>. Has this increased compliance of the Clean Stream Accord had physical affect to water quality within the region?

In 2008 Environment Waikato released a technical report ‘Trends in River Water Quality in the Waikato Region, 1987-2007’. This report shows trends before the creation of the Clean Streams Accord, and the first five years into the accord. Trends of significance, those outside of a 95% probability, were found in almost half of the water quality records from both the major Waikato River, and almost half of the water quality records from other rivers and streams within the district <ref> Enviornment Waikato [2] </ref>. These trends found within the Waikato and other rivers was a significant increase in pH, conductivity, total N, nitrate, and total P, while significant decreases was seen in dissolved oxygen, dissolved colour, and ammonia. There have been some improvements such as ammonia, biochemical oxygen demand, arsenic and boron levels. The improvement in ammonia levels have been recognised as being the result of change in the management of dairy shed wastewaters, such as the introduction of land disposal opposed to the disposal of dairy wastewater into other waterways. As can be seen in FIGURE 1 the ammonia levels are seen to be dramatically reduced and somewhat stabilised shortly after 2003, the year of the introduction of the Accord. The introduction of the Accord has not seen immediate or positive changes within the other contributing factors to water quality. There is still a significant decline caused by nitrate, and total phosphorus concentrations as well as increased conductivity. Environment Waikato has put these declines down to the increased intensification of land within the river catchment, and states that this increase in nitrogen concentration out-weighs the decrease in ammonia. Therefore it is seen that the water quality within the Waikato region is still in a state of deterioration despite the introduction of the Clean Streams Accord.


Taranaki is an exception to the above cases, as the (Taranaki) Regional Council has introduced a Fresh Water Plan to co-exist with the Clean Streams Accord. The 2004/2005 Clean Streams Accord Progress Report show this region as having the second highest number of dairy farms (after Waikato), yet an extremely high compliance rate, 96%, and an extremely low significant non-complience rate, 0.5% <ref> http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/land/dairying-clean-streams-snapshot-may06/table3.html </ref>. By 2006/2007 the progress report shows that compliance rate has increased to 100% <ref> http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/land/dairying-clean-streams-accord-snapshot-feb08/html/figure-2.html </ref>.

Taranaki differs from the trends seen in Southland and Waikato with reports suggesting that river quality is not deteriorating but maintaining its quality, and in some cases even improving. This is seen in Figure 5.1 as the MCl levels within the Kaupokonui Stream increase, resulting in the river quality going from ‘poor’ in 1996 to ‘good’ in 2007. The entrance of the Accord in 2003 is in line with a sudden growth in quality from ‘fair’ to ‘good’, from which we can assume that the Accord has contributed to this rise. <ref> http://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Publications/state-of-the-environment-monitoring/state-of-the-environment-report-200/water+quality.pdf </ref>


Figure 5.1: MCI values of the Kaupokonui stream, downstream of the Fonterra, Kapuni factory discharge from 1996 to 2007. <ref> http://www.trc.govt.nz/assets/Publications/state-of-the-environment-monitoring/state-of-the-environment-report-200/water+quality.pdf </ref>

“Monitoring shows that Taranaki fresh water is maintaining its quality, and if anything, is actually improving. And water quality in the region is as good as or better than most other equivalient waterways in New Zealand,” Taranaki Regional Council <ref> http://www.trc.govt.nz/Fresh-water/ </ref>. This is result of the District Council imposed policies alongside the Accord leading to a high compliance result, and added to by the heavy monitoring of the river quality, and farm compliance.


Figure 5.2: Taranaki regional freshwater plan 8-year trend <ref> http://www.trc.govt.nz/environmental-trends-in-fresh-water/ </ref>

A report on the Environmental Trends in Fresh Water, published by the Taranaki Regional Council compares thirteen water quality aspects within the Taranaki catchments. <ref> http://www.trc.govt.nz/environmental-trends-in-fresh-water/ </ref> These trends are shown as a fifteen year period based from the beginning of records, and over an eight year period (2002-2010) which covers one year before the accord and the remaining seven years of the accord (Figure 5.2). From this we see that the majority of the rivers are stable with water quality not significantly improving or deteriorating. Aspects of water quality that have been recorded as having significant improvements include Total Phosphorus, Nitrate, and Total Nitrogen. Improvements within these variables are a signal of success; as seen by Waikato and Southland, other large dairying regions are struggling to control increasing phosphorus and nitrate levels, resulting in significant deterioration of water quality. This success is attributable to the imposed riparian planting requirements put in place alongside the Accord by Taranaki Regional Council in their Fresh Water Plan. However there are still aspects of water quality that require improvement, the main variable being water clarity. Black Disc water clarity is found to be significantly deteriorating water quality at four of the eleven sites.

Taranaki is an example of how the Accord will work successfully when combined with the Regional Council's backing.

Critique of the Accord

Table 6.1: Summary of positives and negatives of the Accord as well as recommendations to improve its efficacy.


The intention of the Accord is to improve the practices of dairy farming in New Zealand. Environmental management is such an integral part of the dairy industry; therefore it is important that rules and regulations are set for farmers to achieve maximum environmental sustainability. The Accord brings a solution to the massive decline in water quality in New Zealand and makes dairy farmers accountable for their actions. The Accord has many positives and negatives and it seems that many of these negatives are the reason the Accord in some way has failed.

The Accord has not been focused on improvement of water quality but focused on increasing the number of dairy farmers operating at Accord levels. Stakeholders to the Accord believed that the increase of dairy farmers operating at the Accord level would improve water quality but it appears that water quality has not improved and in many cases has declined during the period of the Accord. As the Accord was voluntary it meant that farmers did not have to comply with the rules and regulations of the Accord, while many did comply there were still a large percentage that didn’t. The Accord also relies on self-reporting of farmers and there are no independent assessments of their accuracy. Reporting on progress of the Accord also varies between regional councils and different councils use different measures to gauge whether dairy farms meet the regulations of the Accord. Regional councils have expressed concerned that they have been unable to verify the statistics gathered.

One recommendation is that regional councils across the country adopt the approach of Taranaki, where stricter policies regarding water quality protection have been enforced alongside the accord, for example mandatory riparian planting, which is also encouraged through incentives such as free seedlings and prizes for good plantings. Taranaki's approach shows that there is a place for a level of governmental enforcement as well as voluntary agreements in this issue.

It has been apparent that the Accord has been significant in changing attitudes and actions among the majority of dairy farmers in managing water quality in their farms. The Accord has not been effective in dealing with serious non-compliance and poor practice on dairy farms.

This is due to the failure of regional councils to penalize non-compliance properly, as is shown by the fact that as non-compliance has risen, the amount of penalties by councils has declined. This shows an issue with the RMA process more than the accord, and emphasizes the importance of proper integration between existing frameworks and the accord.

The Accord may be effective environmental management in improving dairy practice beyond RMA standards. However, it is not substitute for enforcement of full compliance by farmers and regular enforcement by regional councils. The impacts of dairying on the quality of New Zealand’s freshwater resources need to be reduced. Consequently, much stronger and enforceable methods must be put in place by industry and regional and central government.