The Waikato Regional Council has sent a stern message to corporate farmers to clean their acts up.
Recently seven farms across the Waikato have been prosecuted under the Resource Management Act for discharging farm effluent into the environment.
One of them was Trinity Lands Limited, whose chief executive Peter McBride, is also the chairman of Fonterra.
Trinity Lands was convicted after a complaint from a member of the public, in relation to over-application of effluent on a farm at Tirau in October 2019.
The company was fined $46,900 by Judge Melinda Dickey in the Tokoroa District Court with the sentence formally issued on last week.
Another case resulted in Taupō dairy farmer John Lockwood being convicted in relation to over-application of effluent in September and October 2019 and again in August 2020.
Lockwood was fined $80,500 by Judge David Kirkpatrick in the Taupō District Court. The council became aware of the incident through monitoring of the farm.
Council regional compliance manager Patrick Lynch said corporate farmers should be leading the way and setting the standards for others in the industry.
"The larger your enterprise, the larger potential risk to the environment if things aren't managed well and we are asking all farmers to be vigilant and all farmers to have good systems and manage them well," Lynch said.
"And of course if you are a multiple farm owner, our expectations are across all of those farms all of the time."
He said farmers should turn to their own industry for support to get systems under control.
"Talk to others about your system and check it is in a good place and you are not at risk to the environment.
"These businesses end up with criminal convictions and really significant fines as well as their names in the media, and no one wants that."
However, Lynch said the farming enterprises that feature in these seven cases reflected a very small portion of that industry.
"Clearly there are still some in the industry who are not taking their environmental obligations seriously and continue to let the side down," he said.
"Many farmers have excellent systems in place, but we continue to urge all rural businesses to invest in the infrastructure needed to manage effluent effectively and to ensure they manage those systems every day they are in use," Lynch said.