The response today from Federated Farmers’ leadership to the spectre of factory-farm dairying contradicts the line they took just six months ago, said Green Party co-leader Russel Norman.
“In May, Federated Farmers’ leadership was extolling the virtues of our free-range grass-fed dairy cows and how this is New Zealand’s competitive advantage,” said Dr Norman.
“Now they’re defending the arrival of factory-farm dairying in New Zealand – it’s contradictory and duplicitous.”
Federated Farmers responded to the Greens blowing the whistle on applications for 16 new dairy farms in South Canterbury’s Mackenzie Basin where 18,000 dairy cows would be contained in indoor cubicles for 8 months of the year.
In May, Federated Farmers lauded the value of animal freedom and natural grass feed that consumers can ‘taste’, to promote New Zealand butter in the UK: ‘Grazing outdoors on GM free grass and natural winter feed makes for happy cows and fantastic quality milk … British consumers literally taste freedom when they eat New Zealand butter.’
Today, Federated Farmers defended the plan for factory-farming saying farmers were ‘being forced’ to use these ‘new techniques’, and that factory-farming ‘should not be an issue’.
“New Zealand’s farming community knows that our competitive edge is the environmental and animal welfare benefits of pastoral farming,” said Dr Norman. “What are British consumers meant to taste if our butter is factory-farmed – torture?
“Confining cows to indoor cubicles for most of the year is not farming; and Federated Farmers’ defence of it is a kick-in-the-guts to good Kiwi farmers.
“The NZ Dairy Strategy published in April has ‘Enhancing the industry’s reputation locally and globally’ as a top five goal of the industry. Factory-farming will ensure we instead dismantle our reputation.
“New Zealand dairy-farming is at a cross-road,” said Dr Norman. “Economics, climate change, water pollution and animal welfare concerns all point us towards a sustainable path that maximises quality not quantity.
“We were heartened when Federated Farmers welcomed the Greens’ Good Farm Stories website project a few days ago. But now some in their leadership are promoting 'Bad Farm Stories' with equal gusto – this is very disappointing.
“Kiwi dairy farmers doing the right thing need their advocates to defend them; not rush to defend factory-farming.”