Green crimes take centre stage

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New zealand Milk

Crimes against the environment are to be taken more seriously by
several of the world's leading dairy countries, forcing the
industry to check standards more rigorously.

Fighting talk on tackling environmental crime has echoed between Europe, US and New Zealand over the last week. The three make up some of the world's leading production zones for the dairy industry, and actions against dairy farms have already been flagged up. DairyReporter​ brings you a round-up. Europe​ The European Commission on Friday proposed its so-called 'green crimes' directive, calling for hefty fines and even prison sentences for practices that endanger the environment. The move marks a significant step up in Europe's fight to protect wildlife and control waste. Serious crimes could bring a prison term of up to 10 years and fines of up to €1.5m. Offences would include unlawful treatment or transport of waste, or illegal discharge of hazardous substances into nearby ecosystems. In a separate move, the UK already intends to tighten hazardous waste rules from 15 May this year. Plans, currently open to comment, would see some veterinary materials classed as hazardous. New Zealand​ Dairy farmers in New Zealand were told last week they would face bigger fines for polluting the environment, after a "landmark"​ court case. An Environment Court judge more than doubled minimum fines for dairy shed effluent offences, from $4,000 to $10,000 (€5,000), as part of a ruling against one farmer. "The farming community should be aware that these matters will be treated by the court with significantly greater seriousness than in the past,"​ the judge said. Fonterra, New Zealand's largest dairy co-operative and leading world exporter, supported the move. "We support steps being taken to ensure that those who are letting the industry down are held responsible for their actions,"​ said Barry Harris, Fonterra's director of milk supply. US​ An extra $9.1m (€7m) will be handed to America's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for enforcement operations, the Bush Administration announced as part of its 2008 budget proposal. The move, if agreed by Congress, would put $549.5m at the disposal of EPA enforcement officials. The EPA is planning to inspect four dairy farms in Vermont over concerns about contamination of local water, according to an Associated Press​ report. Officials announced recently they had also filed action against a dairy farm in Maine for allowing waste to leak into nearby water. "As our nation shifts to a green culture, Americans are realising that environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility,"​ said EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson last week.

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