Farmers are looking to "turn things on their head" by challenging environmental assumptions about their sector at a water forum tomorrow.

Federated Farmers is holding the 2012 Canterbury Water Forum as a counterpoint to what it describes as media reports effectively tagging all farmers as polluters.

The 200-odd companies or individuals known to have polluted waterways over four years are a fraction of the 11,735 dairy herds in New Zealand, said Federated Farmers water spokesperson Ian Mackenzie.

"We have to get the pendulum in balance and this forum is our way to show leadership in terms of policy and practice.


"This farmer-led Water Forum will turn things on their head."

Mackenzie said the forum was not just for farmers but also for service providers and financiers.

Speakers include representatives from each main political party, including former Minister for the Environment and Local Government Nick Smith.

"We want people to come away knowing some of the implications for the future of farming in greater Canterbury," Mackenzie said.

"More specifically what farmers can do inside the farm gate."

The Canterbury Water Forum is being held at Ashburton Trust Events Centre.