The massive $90,000 fine handed out to the Crafer family for inadequate effluent management should send a clear message to the dairy industry that the practices of some of their more cavalier colleagues damage both the environment and the perception of potential overseas tourists.
The Crafers have been running 22 farms, with 20,000 cows. Is it time some limits were set by regional authorities? To quote independent consultant, Dr Clive Dalton
"megaherds" such as those farmed on Crafer properties are a risk to both animal and human health, and the environment.
Protection of the environment, he argues, is paramount and more important than profits or productivity. He notes that the average stocking rate on a farm is 2.7 cows per hectare, and the stocking rate at Collins Road - 3.82, based on a minimum 1400-cow herd - was "just too high."
"The individual cow welfare is lost, therefore the standards of the whole farm drop, because the staff are so tired and worn out ... they're not caring for the cows, and so not caring for the environment.
"The whole bloody show goes down the gurgler when herds get big, driven by people trying to be bigger than everyone else."
The term "cash cow" readily springs to mind here.