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Government Ministers on signing of Fonterra Accord

Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and Environment Minister Marian Hobbs today welcomed the commitment by New Zealand's biggest company Fonterra to meet clear environmental targets.

The main thrust of the Accord takes effect in four years and Mr Sutton said that Fonterra would need to keep its shareholders in the loop as the changes take effect.

Marian Hobbs and Jim Sutton signed the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord with Fonterra chairman Henry van der Heyden, and Local Government New Zealand's Regional Affairs Committee chairman Neil Clarke.

"This Accord represents one of New Zealand's most important environmental agreements," Marian Hobbs said. "Fonterra is working to targets to keep dairy cattle out of streams, lakes and wetlands, to treat farm effluent, and to manage the use of fertilisers and other nutrients. This sends a strong message to Fonterra's markets that it produces safe foods and respects the environment.

"A recent United Nations report has shown that New Zealand has the third highest water quality in the world ? and this accord is about protecting that.

"The Accord demonstrates a real partnership between industry, central and local government."

Dairying plays a vital role in our economy, processing the milk from 13,000 dairy farms, and generating over $6 billion annually in exports.

Jim Sutton said farmers were reeling from a sharp decline in income and would need to be kept firmly in the loop when it came to implementation.

"The farm economy will have to be kept in mind as they work to implement the accord," he said.

Fonterra was to be applauded for taking the initiative in putting farmers in the driving seat, thereby creating a powerful international marketing tool for "clean, green, 100 per cent pure New Zealand food", Jim Sutton said.

"The default position would be regional bureaucracy in the driving seat, with farmers and environmental non-governmental groups squabbling for backseat drivers' rights."

"Fonterra and its suppliers are major players in our environment and the company has taken a positive and proactive approach to environmental stewardship," Marian Hobbs said.

"This agreement will demonstrate that industry self-regulation more than enhances what government could have done by regulation alone. When taken with the valuable work of regional councils, including Resource Management Act processes, and MAF's and MfE's other programmes on water quality, this approach delivers solutions to an environmental issue.

"This agreement will also contribute significantly to the government's goals for water in its Sustainable Development Programme of Action. The programme explicitly recognises the importance of partnerships in solving environmental issues ? and I look forward to working with other industries to develop similar partnerships."




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