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NZ Must Brace for 1 Million More Cows

NZ Must Brace for 1 Million More Cows

The future for New Zealand’s already ailing waterways looks murkier as a $435 million irrigation package potentially paves the way for 1 million more cows.

Fish & Game NZ is concerned yesterday’s announcement of the Irrigation Acceleration Fund for farming will lead to further degradation of the country’s waterways and our international image, and loss of tourism and recreational values.

“Increasingly our ‘100% Pure’ brand is coming under fire both here and overseas,” says Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“Contrary to some claims by primary industry groups, our rivers and lakes are not in good shape at all – half of our lakes and 90% of lowland rivers are classed as polluted. That’s fact.

“The science shows our declining water quality is linked to intensive agriculture, and yet yesterday’s pro-irrigation package will potentially mean 1 million more cows, and reduced stream flows to deal with the increased pollution,” says Mr Johnson.

“Further, while the irrigation industry and farming get a huge cash injection, communities across the country will be left to scrap over limited funding to clean up agriculture’s past adverse environmental impacts.

“The irony is that pollution from intensive agriculture is only set to increase in line with the capacity this extra irrigation provides, and yet no environmental standards, targets or limits have been detailed in the announcement to match this massive irrigation expansion.

“The Freshwater Sciences Society states, ‘We cannot continue to disperse the costs of pollution by a small sector across the whole community.’ I think most New Zealanders would agree with that, but that’s exactly what’s happening.”

Of further concern is the National Policy Statement (NPS) on Freshwater Management departs from the Land and Water Forum’s (LAWF) recommendations to have bottom lines for environmental management and a strong strategic direction which puts the environment first. This begs the question, whose interests is the Government serving when all the key players were around the LAWF table?

“Furthermore, the NPS seems to delegate the job down to regions and communities when its purpose should actually be providing greater national guidance on environmental outcomes

“The Government’s package announced yesterday only touches on a small number of LAWF’s recommendations, all of which were produced as a single package not to be cherry-picked,” says Mr Johnson.

Contrary to some detractors, Fish & Game NZ has never been opposed to agriculture per se, but remains strongly opposed to environmentally unsustainable farming, says Mr Johnson.

ENDS

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