23 Mar 2010

Council open to self-regulation for pig farmers

6:39 am on 23 March 2010

The regional council that handles consents in New Zealand's biggest pig farming region says it would be open to softening the environmental rules if the industry took on more self-regulation.

The pork industry body is calling for an end to what it describes as unnecessary, inconsistent and costly resource consent requirements, following the release of a report detailing the industry's strong environmental performance for dealing with piggery effluent.

The report, by Massey University researchers and partly funded by the Ministry of Agriculture's Sustainable Farming Fund as well as the industry body, assessed nine pig farms of various sizes in six regions.

Canterbury Regional Council director of regulation Kim Drummond says there is room for relaxing regulation if individual farmers were prepared to undergo self-certification.

The owner of New Zealand's biggest piggery, Steve Sterne of Canterbury's Patoa Farms, moved his operation to a remote area to avoid odour complaints from neighbours.

Mr Sterne says though he still has to comply with council regulations over managing the smell from his piggery, he does not view these requirements as too onerous.

Meanwhile, the Green Party says instead of doing away with regulation, it wants to see the same effluent rules applied to all pig farmers nationwide.