4 Jul 2013

Concerns about mixed messages answered by Fontera

6:28 am on 4 July 2013

Perceived mixed messages by Fonterra about the safety of milk from land farms in Taranaki was a hot topic at Federated Farmers annual conference in Ashburton Wednesday.

Land farms are where spoil from oil and gas drilling is spread on to marginal land to turn it into top quality pasture.

At the dairy section meeting at the conference, Taranaki dairy farmer Donald McIntyre was unhappy that Fonterra had initially said milk from land farms was safe - then said it wouldn't accept any milk from new land farms.

He said Fonterra is using emotion rather than science as a basis for its decisions regarding the land farming issue in Taranaki.

In response, Fonterra director David McLeod, who's also chairman of Taranaki Regional Council, said the co-operative has to take account of many factors in its decision making.

He said scientifically there is no problem with regard to having milking cows on land farms, but Fonterra also needs to consider how the market will react to that.

Mr McLeod referred to the issue where dicyandiamide residues were found in some dairy products saying it was taken out of context and there was absolutely no food risk or security aspect to that.

But he said a journalist picked it up, the story got into the international media causing a market reaction.

"We need to take into context a lot of different things in our decision making and the company chose to basically put a policy in place not to accept any more milk on new land farms."

Mr McLeod said Fonterra needs to lead the discussion, but it can't afford to remove itself from the market risks attached to the issue.