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Monday, July 7

Fed Farmers leading wrong way on water

Federated Farmers needs to show greater leadership on water quality, the Green Party said today.

The Green Party is responding to claims by the outgoing and incoming Federated Farmers’ dairy section chairs that ‘there is no need for urgent action” by the dairy industry in improving its environmental performance.

“If you're making a mess, before you start cleaning up, you stop making more mess,” Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

“It's not helpful to understate the size and seriousness of our water pollution problem. The facts are clear. The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment found that even when farmers use best practice, the sheer scale of increasing intensive agriculture such as dairying, will cause more water pollution.

“We have more than 6.6 million dairy cows in New Zealand, equivalent to a human population of 84 million but without the sewage treatment. We can’t continue to increase the number of dairy cows and their impact on land and waterways.  The solution is in adding value to the milk we produce, not ignoring the pollution problem.”

“Everyone agrees we need to take action urgently, except Federated Farmers.

“New Zealanders want to be able to swim in our rivers. Ignoring the problem won’t fix it,” said Ms Sage.

“Scientists and even Dairy NZ Environment Policy Manager Dr Mike Scarsbrook has called the relationship between intensive farming and river pollution ‘inescapable and undeniable’,” said Ms Sage.

“Federated Farmers need to take a leadership role.

“Instead of putting the brake on change, the industry needs to increase its efforts significantly and recognise that there are limits to growth in cow numbers to prevent further pollution of rivers.”