DairyReporter.com approached Fonterra following calls from the New Zealand Green Party to suspend the taking of milk from land in the Taranaki region of the country, where waste from oil drilling and fracking has been spread and covered.
Hydraulic fracturing, which is more commonly known as fracking, is the process of drilling and injecting a combination of water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rocks to release trapped natural gas.
In a statement issued yesterday, Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman claimed that consumers will be “concerned to know that milk from cows grazed on land spread with oil industry and fracking waste is in our milk supply.”
“Consumers can get dirty milk from any number of countries. Our brand advantage is that our milk is clean and green. We need to take all steps to ensure our milk stays that way,” he said.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, general manager of milk supply technical and assurance at Fonterra, Andy Goodwin, slammed Norman’s claims, stating: “Food safety is always taken seriously by Fonterra.”
Fonterra test milk “as a matter of course”
According to Goodwin, Fonterra tests the quality of its milk “as a matter of course.”
“If for any reason we have cause for concern, we will take appropriate measures to protect our milk supply, farmers and consumers.”
“The area of NZ dairy farm land associated with land-farming is extremely low with only two farms supplying Fonterra. We have completed a thorough assessment of the practice, including specific residue testing, and we’re confident that it poses no risk to the integrity of our milk,” he said.
Goodwin also defended the methods employed by the Taranaki Regional Council after the Green Party co-leader questioned its objectivity.
According to Norman, the Council, which works to ensure that region’s natural resources are sustainably managed, “is not a neutral umpire when it comes to fracking and the oil industry; it is an advocate.”
Responding, Goodwin said: “The disposal of cutting waste and water from oil drilling sites is governed by resource consents issued by the Taranaki Regional Council and we are confident in the council’s consents process and on-going monitoring.”
Green Party is “scaremongering”
Federated Farmers, which represents the interests of farmers across New Zealand, has also taken a swipe at the comments made by the Green Party – accusing it if “scaremongering” and putting the country’s “number one merchandise export” at risk.
“The Green Party media release I saw is like going into a packed theatre and yelling fire,” said Federated Farmers Taranaki provincial president, Harvey Leach.
“Politicians misrepresenting the truth is low-ball stuff. They are calling into question the integrity of a major regional council which is the most experience we have in dealing with oil and gas.”
“It also puts at risk our $12bn dairy exports industry by questioning the integrity of our major dairy exporters. We are being ankle-tapped by politicians who get paid by our hard work and that of other hard working kiwis. We deserve much better,” Leach added.