Media Release: Stop putting livestock on toxic waste dumps

Steers on BTW Brown Road landfarm, photo by Fiona Clark, 1 June 2014

Steers on BTW Brown Road landfarm, photo by Fiona Clark, 1 June 2014


The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has received results on the first round of tests of milk collected from landfarms. The MPI spokesperson said, there were no health and safety issues at the levels detected but would not comment on the results.

“It’s not good enough for MPI to say there are ‘no food safety issues’. The public has the right to know what’s been found in the milk, if contaminants were present, and from which landfarm(s),” said Catherine Cheung, Climate Justice Taranaki.

Numerous studies have shown that some of the drilling and fracking chemicals are harmful at extremely low concentrations. Some can disrupt normal hormone functions crucial for healthy growth and reproduction, even at levels below detection.

Notably the July 2014 report on the BTW Brown Road Landfarm in Waitara received a “poor performance” rating from the Taranaki Regional Council for 2012-2013, citing four unauthorised incidents involving non-compliance of consent conditions. Elevated levels of dissolved solids, chloride, barium, benzene and toluene were found in the groundwater next to the storage area. Cattle were reported by a TRC inspector to be grazing in recently sown areas in June 2012 and steers were observed by a local resident on the landfarm this June.

It was prudent of Fonterra to decline milk from new landfarms a year ago. “But that is clearly not enough to safeguard human health and food safety. We call on Fonterra to stop taking milk from all landfarms, now. We also urge NZ Beef and Lamb and ANZCO to take heed and appropriate action,” said Cheung.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in her recent report said, The situation with landfarming in Taranaki needs urgent attention. Since the regional council considers that it is not responsible for animal welfare or food safety, the Food Safety Authority should step in. Someone must take responsibility for deciding when livestock can be put back on to landfarmed pasture, and for ensuring that the current ‘hands off’ situation does not continue. This issue is not confined to dairy farming – beef cattle or sheep, for instance, may graze landfarmed pasture.”

Cheung concluded, “Let’s move onto sustainable farming that nurtures soil health as much as profits and are not reliant on fossil fuels, as some progressive farmers are already doing.


Media coverage:

Midday Rural News (Radio NZ, 31 July, 2:05-3:37)


3 Responses to Media Release: Stop putting livestock on toxic waste dumps

  1. Emily says:

    It’s pretty crazy that MPI would announce that the milk is safe before the tests have even been completed. You would think they might learn from past recent mistakes.

    Another article here shows farmers might not be so easily convinced :

    I wonder also, if they are even testing for the correct toxins. Given that the Taranaki Regional Council does not require knowledge of all chemicals being used how do they know what to test for? Some chemicals we know they use are still toxic at levels that are undetectable.

    Besides landfarms are not the only places where these drilling chemicals are being dumped. Every well site has a chemical storage, overflow and spill pond. So comparing a non-landfarm to a landfarm may not prove anything.

  2. Lisa says:

    Food safety is very important especially to our children. I, for one, want the best for my kid thus I want to know the foods he’s eating. Reading this makes me worry and more vigilant on the foods I am giving especially to my little one. Yes, we have all the right to know the contents of the food (of course, milk) so we are confident of the safety and health of our kids.

    • Thank you Lisa for your comment. We encourage anyone concerned with the contaminated milk to ask MPI what’s been found, at what level, and from which landfarm, and request that animals be kept off all landfarms and other industry dump sites. You may pose your questions as an Official Information Act (OIA) request. Keep the pressure on! Email the Minister of Primary Industry Nathan Guy and Minister of Food Safety Nikki Kaye at

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