20 Nov 2013

Fonterra farmers fencing furiously

2:30 pm on 20 November 2013

Fonterra farmers are well on the way to meeting their December deadline to have 90% of their waterways fully fenced off from stock, the dairy giant says.

Farmers have dug, hammered and tensioned their way through more than 20,000km of fencing, as they try to reduce their impact on the environment. That leaves them with about 4000km more to go.

Federated Farmers says that length of fencing would stretch half way round the world, and is the first step on the road to a sustainable future for dairying.

But an independent government report has previously disputed the accuracy of Fonterra's own reporting on its farmers' progress towards fencing off their waterways, indicating it exaggerates the numbers.

And Fish and Game New Zealand, which coined the term "dirty dairying", is not impressed.

Fish and Game New Zealand acknowledges the farmers who have worked to fence stock out of water ways, but it challenges the claim that 90% of waterways will soon be protected.

It points out the programme doesn't include smaller streams or standing water and is calling for dairy no-go zones in sensitive areas.

The Fonterra figures precede Thursday's release of a new report on water quality by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, which is expected to highlight the negative impacts of intensive farming.