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Dairy Farmers On A Hiding To Nothing

The signing of the new Dairy Accord - imposed by Fonterra, the Labour Government, regional councils, Fish and Game, the Environment Ministry and MAF - has left dairy farmers on a hiding to nothing, ACT New Zealand Rural Affairs Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today.

"These organisations have all combined to impose this accord, despite huge progress by the dairy farmers in cleaning up their own industry's effluent disposal problem," Mr Eckhoff said.

"It is extraordinary that Fonterra was a party to this unholy alliance without adequate consultation with their owners: the dairy farmers. It appears that Fonterra will refuse a suppliers' milk if it believe the farmer is making inadequate progress towards fencing their cows away from streams and ditches. Their monopoly allows them to impose any cost, standard or regulation they wish with impunity.

"Fish and Game has clearly been a participant to this accord all the way, yet farmer representatives have been excluded. Why didn't Fonterra insist on Federated Farmers Dairy Section being a signatory? It is obvious that low river and stream flows during dry summers will force farmers to stop irrigating, in order to ensure a fisherman's recreational opportunity is not compromised as a result of this agreement.

"I can only hope that dairy farmers will hold Fonterra's directors and senior management to account for their `top down' approach - which may well herald a future trend. It should, therefore, be of no surprise that today's announcement has coming during the Parliamentary recess, so that this issue can only be debated through the media," Mr Eckhoff said.

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