Combining efficient food production with environmental stewardship requires both relevant science and effective governance (Henle et al 2008). New Zealand is a major supplier of food products to world markets, but faces significant challenges in managing the effects of intensive agricultural production upon rural environments, especially waterways (MfE, 2017; OECD, 2017). Functional green infrastructure is increasingly recognized as an essential part of sustainable pastoral dairy systems (Wilcock et al., 2009; Renouf & Harding, 2015), and New Zealand’s neo-liberal policy regime has emphasized farmer led voluntary approaches to protecting environmental values in areas undergoing intensification (Swaffield, 2014). However, implementation has been variable and cumulative outcomes uncertain (PCE, 2015). As a result, a wider range of mechanisms are being introduced.
Agri-business companies that purchase primary products from farmers, such as milk, as well as companies supplying essential resources such as water and fertilizer, are highly influential in farmer decision making, and may play a key role in supporting and guiding farmer initiatives. Using a variety of sources including farmer surveys, key informant interviews and published reports, the role of NZ agri-business companies in encouraging green infrastructure restoration by farmers is examined. Sector-wide initiatives such as the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord (DELG 2013); certification, for example ‘Lead with Pride’ (Synlait); company supply conditions, including Farm Environmental Plans (CPW 2017); and company funded financial support schemes, such as the Environmental Management Fund (Central Plains Water 2016) are analysed, and the relationship between public policy and regulation and private initiatives critiqued. A hybrid approach consisting of regulation, certification, funding support, collaboration and education offers potential to be effective in achieving sustainable outcomes, but currently lacks effective integration frameworks and tools at a landscape level.
Central Plains Water 2016 Environmental Management Fund. Retrieved on 21-5-17 from http://www.cpwl.co.nz/environmental-management-fund-emf
Central Plains Water 2017 Farm Environmental Plans. Retrieved 21-5-17 from http://www.cpwl.co.nz/environmental-management/farm-environmental-plan
Dairy Environment Leadership Group (DELG) 2013. Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord. Dairy NZ, Hamilton, NZ.
Henle, K., Alard, D., Clitherow, J., Cobb, P., Firbank, L., Kull, T., ... & Wascher, D. 2008. Identifying and managing the conflicts between agriculture and biodiversity conservation in Europe–A review. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 124(1), 60-71.
Ministry for the Environment & Stats NZ (2017). New Zealand’s Environmental Reporting Series: Our fresh water 2017. Retrieved on 21-5-17 from
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Parliamentary Commissioner for Environment 2015 Water Quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution, Update Report. Wellington, NZ
Renouf K & Harding JS 2015 CVharacterising riparian buffer zones of an agrioculturally modified landscape. NZJ Marine and Freshwater Research 49(3) 323-332
Swaffield SR 2014 ‘Sustainability practices in New Zealand agricultural landscapes under an open market policy regime’ Landscape Research, 39(2), 190-204.
Wilcock, R. J., Betteridge, K., Shearman, D., Fowles, C. R., Scarsbrook, M. R., Thorrold, B. S., & Costall, D. (2009). Riparian protection and on‐farm best management practices for restoration of a lowland stream in an intensive dairy farming catchment: A case study. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 43(3), 803-818.
Synlait Limited, 2012. ‘Lead With Pride – ISO 65 dairy farm assurance system’, Synlait Milk
Limited, Rakaia, Canterbury NZ retrieved on 10-2-17 from http://www.synlait.com/about/supplying-synlait/lead-withpride/