A critical perspective on the environmental regulatory requirements for dairy farming in South Africa
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Farms and farming are intrinsically linked to human civilization and have had a dramatic impact on the planet’s landscape and environmental systems. As with any form of intensive agriculture, there are environmental aspects that hold the potential of leading to severe environmental impacts. These impacts are associated with the general management practices on dairy farms. The various impacts activities on dairy farms possibly will have on the environment are discussed in detail and they include water pollution, air pollution, soil pollution, loss in biodiversity, waste generation and the use of energy and non-renewable resources. In the field of dairy farming particular focus is centred on the degradation of water resources, especially as this is a major environmental issue around the world. Environmental regulation in South Africa is still relatively new compared to other fields of law. The applicable laws are discussed in detail and also applied to the environmental impacts caused by the activities on dairy farms to determine the strengths and shortcomings in South African environmental legislation, regarding regulation of the industry. The main aim of the dissertation was to critically reflect on the implications of the environmental regulatory requirements for dairy farming in South Africa. This study concluded that there is a comprehensive framework for environmental legislation and an existence of well-documented regulations connected to environmental protection. However, the implementation and enforcement of these environmental laws on dairy farms is unsuccessful. Environmental law and regulations is lacking, which specifically regulate and resolve the environmental problems relating to the activities on dairy farms. The farmers are also not aware of all the relevant environmental regulations with which they need to comply. This will then lead to the mismanagement of environmental aspects of the farm and the utilisation of inefficient farming methods, which can lead to pollution to the environment. Without sufficient and effective legislation to regulate the industry, activities on dairy farms due to the unregulated nature thereof, may lead to severe environmental impacts.