Dirty dairying

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Water pollution due to dairy farming in the Wairarapa. An underpass is also shown which allows access for cattle to the other side of the road.

In New Zealand "dirty dairying" refers to damage to the ecological health of New Zealand's freshwater environment by the intensification of dairy farming,[1] and also to the high profile campaign begun in 2002 by the Fish and Game Council to highlight and combat this.[2][3][4]

The campaign led to the creation in 2003 of the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord, a voluntary agreement between Fonterra, Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and regional councils. In 2014 the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord was succeeded by the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.[5]


Intensive dairy farming practices has led to water pollution from cattle effluent in many of the streams and rivers in New Zealand. The Waikato River has had a long history of water pollution and now fails health regulations for human contact. It passes through the highly productive Waikato Region, where dairy farming is a common land use. More recently, the Manawatu River has been highlighted in the media due to its high pollution levels. Lake Ellesmere has suffered from eutrophication since the 1970s due to farming activities in the area, Lake Taupo has had government funding to curb pollution, and the Rotorua lakes are heavily polluted. A study using water quality data from 1996 to 2002 found that the vast majority of lowland rivers and streams passing through pastoral land were polluted.[6]


There have been a number of prosecutions for dirty dairying. Over a four-year period from July 2008 until June 2012 at least 151 prosecutions involving 300 charges were made for unlawful discharges of dairy effluent. Environment Court fines collected for the period totalled $NZ$3.2 million.[7]

Some notable cases include:

  • In June 2008 numerous South Otago farmers and companies were prosecuted under the Resource Management Act for unauthorised effluent discharges. The defendants were convicted by the Environment Court.[8]
  • In August 2008 the West Coast Regional Council, responsible for water quality regulation, was accused of complacency by the West Coast District Health Board for failing to have any official water source meet the drinking water standard.[9]
  • The Crafar family, as well as being accused of animal cruelty, were prosecuted seven times over a period of three years before their farms were placed in receivership in October 2009. A $45,000 fine was handed down to the Crafars and their sharemilker in 2010 for allowing effluent to enter a waterway near the town of Bulls.[10]
  • In 2010 the Whataroa company Potae and van der Poel Ltd were given a $120,000 fine, possibly the largest of its type, for repeated breaches of effluent discharge. The company had been issued with abatement notices for effluent runoff three farms in 2008. Effluent had entered tributaries of the Whataroa River.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Monitoring and Reporting Strategy for the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord". Ministry for the Environment. April 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  2. ^ One News (25 June 2002). "Report into dirty dairying". TVNZ. 
  3. ^ Peden, Robert (27 September 2011). "Farming in the economy". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 
  4. ^ Collins, Simon (3 July 2004). "Water fails clean, green test". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.dairynz.co.nz/media/3286407/sustainable-dairying-water-accord-2015.pdf
  6. ^ Larne, Scott T.; Mike R. Scarsbrook; Ton H. Snelder; Ned J. Norton; Barry J. F. Biggs (2004). "Water quality in low-elevation streams and rivers of New Zealand: recent state and trends in contrasting land-cover classes" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research. National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. 38: 347–366. doi:10.1080/00288330.2004.9517243. 
  7. ^ Sharpe, Marty (5 June 2012). "New Zealand Dirty Dairying Laid Bare". Stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Another $54,000 in fines for dirty dairying". Otago Daily Times. 2009-06-25. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  9. ^ "Council 'soft' on dirty dairying". The Dominion Post. Fairfax Media NZ Ltd. 6 August 2008. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  10. ^ Fitzsimons, Tom (2010-04-10). "Final dirty dairying fine for Crafars". The Dominon Post. Retrieved 24 April 2010. 
  11. ^ "Huge fine for dirty dairy farmers" Archived May 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., 21 April 2010, TVNZ

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]