In a statement sent to DairyReporter.com earlier today, the New Zealand-based dairy cooperative confirmed that it will no longer take milk from farms where land farming has taken place.
It will, however, continue to source milk from existing suppliers based on land where waste from oil drilling and fracking - 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 - has been buried.
The announcement comes just weeks after the New Zealand Green Party called on Fonterra to stop sourcing milk from land effected by these practices in the Taranaki region of the country.
Despite the timing of today’s announcement, Fonterra has denied that this pressure played any part in its decision.
“Our testing confirms that we can be 100% confident that there is no food safety issue from land farming,” said Fonterra managing director of co-operative affairs, Todd Muller.
“However, given the high costs of testing (around NZ$80k per annum) we made the decision earlier this year that no supply will be accepted from any further dairy farms where land-farming is proposed. This is outlined in part of Fonterra’s Terms and Conditions of Supply," Muller added.
Green Party welcomes “commitment”
The New Zealand Green Party has congratulated Fonterra on its decision.
“It is great that Fonterra have been open about the cost they face due to the oil and gas industry,” said Green Party energy spokesperson, Gareth Hughes, in a statement.
“We welcome Fonterra’s commitment not to take milk from any additional farms where oil and gas industry waste has been spread.”
“Fonterra’s response shows the Green Party was raising valid questions about Fonterra collecting milk from cow’s grazing on land farms.”
The Wellington-based political party has, however, urged Fonterra to extend its new policy to the land farms that it currently deals with.
“We urge Fonterra to reconsider accepting milk from the land farms it current deals with. It’s not worth the risk to their brand and means it faces on-going testing costs," said Hughes.
“Good on Fonterra”
Climate Justice Taranaki - a community group dedicated to “positive action at the front lines” of climate change - has also welcomed Fonterra's announcement.
“The recent expansion of the oil industry due to dangerous new techniques like fracking has destroyed soils, water aquifers and devastated the lives of farmers and rural folk in parts of Australia and the USA. We do not want to see that ever happen here,” said a statement posted on the group’s website.
“While Fonterra is still facing problems around water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions we congratulate them on taking this step towards a truly clean, green country.”