Dairy chief defends upgrade plans
AMID the continuing controversy about the planned upgrade of existing dairies at Yellow Rock and North Bank roads, Raleigh Dairy Holdings general manager and shareholder Stuart Brander wants to allay community fears.
“What we are doing here is upgrading run-down dairies to best practice standards,” Mr Brander said.
“We are working towards a better situation by investing $20 million in fencing, feed pads and effluent management... all measures in line with best practice standards. Previously effluent was running into the Bellinger River – under this new scenario it won’t.”
He said RDH had already fenced off 100 of the 570 hectares to maintain wetlands and native bushland.
“The Catchment Management Authority offered funding for this but we funded it ourselves. We are also completing the fencing of riparian zones.”
Mr Brander said comments that RDH was not here for the long term were not true.
“Would you invest that sort of money and then not do it properly? It just would not make any economic or social sense. We are here for the long term and want to be able to work with the community.”
He said feed pads featured in the upgrade plans as they were an efficient, clean way to feed animals, especially during times of flood.
“The feed pad is a concrete area that allows animals to be fed under all conditions.
“They are washed out daily and are set up so effluent can be captured. Under the current set-up, the effluent cannot be captured – we want to improve that. Pads protect both cows and the environment – they are designed for animal comfort. Ours will also provide shade.”
He said he arrived in the March 31, 2009 flood and saw what happened.
“Animals were up on the hill, the feed was being trodden into the mud and the effluent was going into the river.
“Under our plans the animals will be kept in a clean area and fed until floodwaters subside.”
He said the floodplains were excellent for growing pasture and RDH was planning a pasture-based system, which would see cows only fed on the feedpad when necessary.
Fears about smell were also unfounded, Mr Brander said.
“The effluent will be treated with bacteria in the ponds – there will not be any smell.”
He re-iterated that incidents of night slashing and aerial spraying were one-offs and would never happen again.
“I appreciate community concerns and my door was always open. I made the offer at the meeting but so far only one person has contacted me.”
To discuss concerns directly with Mr Brander, phone 6655 4470 and leave a message.