9 Sep 2009

Dairy farmers 'hounded out of industry'

7:01 am on 9 September 2009

The owners of one of the country's biggest dairy operations are selling up, saying they've been hounded out of the industry.

The Crafar family, which owns Crafarms, is selling the 22 dairy and dry stock farms the company owns in the central North Island.

Crafar-owned farms have been prosecuted for a string of resource consent infringements over a number of years, mostly for breaching effluent discharge rules.

In the most recent case, brought by Waikato Regional Council, the family was fined a record $90,000 after being convicted of 34 charges of illegally discharging dairy effluent.

Family spokesman Alan Crafar has confirmed the dairy farming operation has a high debt loading, but he says no more than many dairy farmers have right now.

He says the main reason for deciding to sell up was because they felt they were were being hounded by councils and Government red tape.

Mr Crafar says some of the prosecutions should never have come to court.

A spokesperson for Waikato Regional Council, Rob Dragten, says in some cases prosecutions against Crafarms have arisen from complaints from the public about farm effluent.

He says the council looks at the facts of a particular case and whether the it warrants prosecution, irrespective of the particular people involved.