DairyNZ says dairy farmers do not need another survey to tell them that the public expects them to lift their environmental performance - because they are already doing it.
The industry organisation has dismissed a survey funded by Fish & Game as playing politics in an election year, saying it's not surprising it painted a negative picture of public attitudes to dairy farming.
Respondents to the survey, which Fish & Game commissioned from Horizon Research, were asked for their view on what effect, if any, increased dairy farming has had on the quality of water in streams, rivers and lakes in New Zealand. Seventy-one percent thought water quality is worse than 20 years ago.
That view was largely shared by farm owners and managers, 64 percent of whom rated water quality as worse than 20 years ago.
DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says, however, that there was no acknowledgment of the efforts being made by the industry and farmers to reduce their environmental impact.
"The reality is right now, through their levy, dairy farmers are investing around $11 million a year in environmental work and investment on research and on development on farms," Mr Mackle says.
He says dairy companies are doing a lot of work in the area too.