Fonterra ‘Desperate’ to Restore Public Support for Dairy – NZ Fish and Game Council


Fish & Game says Fonterra has now realised it must act quickly to meet public demand for better water quality instead of relying on spending millions on slick PR campaigns promoting the dairy industry.

Fonterra has just launched what it describes as “an ambitious plan” to improve the country’s freshwater quality, including farming within environmental limits and encouraging strong environmental farming practices.

Fish & Game’s Chief Executive Martin Taylor says the admission dairy farming needs to clean up its act is welcome, but long overdue.

“Fonterra has been around for 16 years and in that time we have seen cow numbers soar, irrigation explode and water quality plummet,” Mr Taylor says.

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“There are now more than six million cows in New Zealand. In regions like Canterbury where dairying was once uncommon, there are now one and a quarter of a million cows.

“That’s more than the number of humans in the whole of the South Island.

“The environmental impact of that volume of untreated dairy effluent being dumped on land is the equivalent of the raw sewage produced by tens of millions of people.

“By Fonterra’s own admission, sediment, nutrient and E. Coli levels in our waterways is increasing or indeterminate in up to nearly 80 percent of the small number of rivers it refers to in its report.

“Make no mistake, the present dire situation has been caused by Fonterra’s single-minded focus on increased production at all costs, aided and abetted by weak regional councils.

“It is ironic a multi-national corporate which relies on New Zealand’s clean green image for its marketing has damaged that clean green reality.

“And now they realise spending millions of dollars on slick TV ads to persuade people New Zealanders otherwise isn’t working.

“Fonterra must do more to turn things around and do it quickly,” Martin Taylor says.
Mr Taylor says cutting cow numbers and protecting small streams are good places to start.

“The bottom line is there are too many cows. Herd numbers need to be reduced until they are in balance with the environment.

“Other equally aggressive measures also need to be taken, including reducing the volume of nutrients being dumped on our soils.”

Martin Taylor says Fonterra’s announcement shows the power of public opinion.

“New Zealanders are fed up with the plunge in water quality – that’s why it became one of this election’s defining issues. Public anger is now at a level where Fonterra’s social licence to operate is under serious threat and they’re being forced to respond.

“Every New Zealander is now watching how Fonterra will fulfil its environmental promises. It needs to act quickly and decisively to prove its commitment is real and not just public relations spin,” Mr Taylor says.


  1. They can start by taking their bullshit ads off the TV. Someone should make an advert following a pensioner or unemployed person to a supermarket to try to buy (afford) their overpriced products. I have seen 500gm of butter for $9.48 in a small town 4Square. Oh. and then there’s the water we can no longer stand in!

  2. Yes I heard the new advertisements on the radio saying they
    (the farmers) are opening their gates to the public so people can see what they are doing to address the problem and they will have information on line showing some of the interventions to reduce the nitrate leaching into the waterways. Interesting how one group has managed to get away with some much environmental devastation.

  3. The talk – now we wait for the walk.

    Irrigation must be curbed and wound down in many/ most catchments.

    The talk has to be about undoing what is done not merely slowing the rate of intensification.

    Economics are not a consideration.

    If were ever a consideration then more homework would have been done before damaging practices were allowed and included mitigation and restoration.

    It is plainly not economic to damage the environment.

    Claims of economic necessity I hear do not mention the economic cost of cleaning up or loss of biodiversity, habitat loss nor denial of public enjoyment, toxifying and loosing soils which have taken many centuries to form.

    Plainly Investment for monetary gain must not trump environment.

    Recovering cost from the agencies who have responsibility for the present mess would be a start.

    That money could be used by Govt to fund a massive task force attending to restoring damaged environment.

    A few bankruptcies may transmit a message.

    Feriliser companies have large global resources.

  4. I received a letter from the Waimakariri District Council offering me a chance to connect to a water scheme taking water from a deep well and costing me something like 10,000 to join and 1300 on my rates yearly. One reason is that the aquifer that was quite suitable when I bought the block 15 years ago is threatened by drawn down and nitrogen contamination. When I bought the block I had the water tested and put in a good pump for my domestic use, not irrigation. So now I could be forced to spend a lot of money I don’t have due to pollution cause by ECAN and WDC allowing, and in fact encouraging, land use (dairying) that is unsuitable and unsustainable for the light Canterbury soil involved. But Fonterrra is not offering to pay for the cost they have created for all of us in the area, but the council will charge even thought they could have regulated the farming activities to avoid this pollution of our water

    • This is why ECAN got sacked so they could intensify irrigation and dairying now canterbury is paying the price.

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