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Philippa Fourie (Barriball) & Fonterra

Out of the blue comes an article in the NZ Farmers Weekly of 15 July that features Philippa Fourie (Bariball) who now speaks on behalf of Fonterra CEO Theo Spierlings as Manager of Local Government and Community Relations.

Fonterra have bought a fight with local government generally, and Peter Buckley of WRC in particular in regard to its desire to see Government instiutute a national plan to manage dairy growth. Buckley sees this as as deliberate attempt to override council objectives. It is of course a direct reaction to the Horizons Council decision that has worked its way through the courts, and appears to be very much leaning in favour of a decision backing the Council's desire to apply very strong controls aimed at reducing nitrogen, phosphate and effluent run-off to acceptable levels.

Fonterra clearly sees the multi-council approach to these matters as a threat to its future expansion plans, but its attempts to regulate the activities of its member/suppliers remain un-convincing, and many councils besides WRC will be concerned at these attempts to influence Government towards centralised control.

Those that have had doubts about the sincerity behind the WRC approach to these matters in the past will no doubt have mixed feelings about the indignation now being expressed by Mr Buckley, himself a fairly large scale dairy farmer. But the threat of removing this oversight to the tender grasp of some government authority is clearly a step too far for many. Philippa Fourie's spirited defence of Fonterra's proposals will give no comfort to that camp. Dairy farmers (and their banker backers) want as little restriction as possible on expansion and intensification, and there will always remain tension between the opposing sides to the argument. 

Peter Buckley's "angry reaction", is based on his confidence that "By 2015 there would be some clear parameters lad out on nutrient and sediment loss limits within the three defined Waikato dairying areas" - a long time coming. Philippa Fourie's defence of Fonterra's position was that "It is more about the process behind setting the limits around the country". Soothing words indeed, but hardly convincing. Clearly, Fonterra believe that there remain vast areas (Maori, and pine according to Fourie) still to be exploited.  

Fonterra (and Fourie) are convinced that expansion of significance, both regionally and nationally, can be accomplished, along with "social and economic well-being, but we want to be careful about doing the right thing for the environment by providing a system and framework to achieve the twin goals." Well, that is reassuring, I think!




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