The Green Party today urged the Prime Minister to show leadership to protect New Zealand’s reputation and export industries from being damaged by plans to begin factory-farming dairy cows in New Zealand.
“This proposal would be a bridge too far for New Zealand’s international reputation, and such a threat requires Government intervention,” said Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman.
“The Government has the power under the Resource Management Act to assess matters of national significance at a national level. It this isn’t one such issue, what is?”
The Minister for the Environment can ‘call-in’ consent applications that have “aroused widespread public concern or interest regarding its actual or likely effect on the environment”.
“New Zealanders all over the country are rightly concerned about the proposals for factory-farming, so it makes sense to debate these applications at a national level,” said Dr Norman.
In response to a question from Dr Norman in Parliament today, the Prime Minister said he shared the concerns of Fonterra and the Green Party that factory-farming is a threat to New Zealand’s reputation.
When asked whether he agrees that “New Zealand’s competitive advantage for dairy exports is because our dairy cows are pastoral – they eat grass and live outdoors – and therefore any moves to introduce factory farming of dairy cows in New Zealand is a threat to that priceless economic advantage”, he responded, “Yes.”
The Prime Minister earlier acknowledged that “the country's reputation could be jeopardised by factory farming of dairy cows”.
“The threat from this factory-farming proposal goes beyond animal welfare and the local environment of the Mackenzie Basin,” said Dr Norman. “It is also a threat to our international reputation and export economy, and for that reason it requires a national-level assessment.”
Last month, the Prime Minister told Federated Farmers that “regardless of your view about the environment or climate change, the opinions of your consumers will ultimately decide how well your products sell”.
“John Key is quite right when he highlights the issue that our reputation and exports are on the line,” said Dr Norman.
“Neither the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee nor the Canterbury Regional Council is well-placed to consider such broad implications, which is why the Government should use its powers to intervene."