This morning I launched the latest Dairying and Clean Streams: Snapshot of Progress.
When it was developed back in 2003, the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord was a welcome initiative.
Farmers are implicitly connected with their land. Their land is also their business and they are motivated to take care of, and preserve their number one asset. For this reason they are constantly trialling new and better ways of doing things.
Five years down the track, the Accord is still one of the key indicators of the desire in the dairy industry to improve water quality.
The Accord results reveal three targets are well on track for 2012. These include: exclusion of stock from waterways; bridging and culverting; and adopting nutrient budgets. I congratulate the dairy farmers of New Zealand on these results and welcome the progress made by the dairy industry in cleaning up rivers and streams on dairy farms.
But I also used this opportunity to send a strong message to farmers who refuse to toe the line.
The small number of dairy farmers who ignore effluent disposal requirements are damaging the reputation of the dairy industry as a whole.
It is simply unacceptable to pollute. Not only does it antagonise environmental organisations but also wider New Zealand. More importantly, it risks the hard-gained reputation that New Zealand Inc. has established in our international markets.
I am expecting an improvement in the progress on this target because clean fresh water is of intrinsic value to farmers; we can't do business without it.