Northland Regional Council chairman Craig Brown has condemned the ''arrogance'' of dairy farmers who pollute land and water.
The council on Tuesday discussed its latest monitoring results which showed a third of Northland's 1100 dairy farmers are failing to comply with effluent rules.
Despite a big investment in effluent infrastructure in the last few years, Mr Brown, said the compliance rate is up just 1% on last year.
He says that is extremely disappointing and could be put down to some arrogant players, in an ''arrogant'' industry.
Mr Brown said he is at a loss to know what to suggest, apart from harsher penalties.
Three councillors, who are farmers, say the industry has been working hard to improve standards and the problems are the result of poor management, not arrogance.
Mr Brown said on Wednesday that it was perhaps unfair to call the whole industry arrogant - but his comments spring from frustration with compliance figures that remain stubbornly poor, year after year.
However, Farmers of New Zealand president Ian Walker says Mr Brown's comments are unfair.
Mr Walker, who's also a regional councillor, says 'non-compliance' is a draconian term for what can sometimes be a minor mistake.