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BioGro Response to Charlie Pederson

Statement from BioGro New Zealand

“The extraordinary attack on environmentalists by Federated Farmers President Charlie Pedersen can not go unchallenged,” says the Chairman of BioGro NZ, Derek Broadmore.

“Mr Pedersen’s comments reflect an exploitative attitude to the environment based on short term gain, without regard to the needs of future generations, or the present realities of climate change.”

The approach apparently advocated by Mr. Pedersen will ensure the continued degradation of the New Zealand natural environment It also completely ignores the market trends and realities in many of our overseas markets, particularly in Europe and North America, where the consumers are increasingly demanding food that is demonstrably the product of sustainable, environmentally friendly farming practises.

In the UK alone, last year growth in sales of organic food was 30% over the previous year taking the total market to approx $NZ4.8 billion. This huge increase reflects the commitment to stocking organic produce by some of the large supermarket chains in response to the escalating demand for sustainably produced food.

In response to worries about climate change, New Zealand being on the other side of the world from some of our largest markets, will face growing pressure on our commodity based exports as consumers look to “buy local” and conserve food miles. New Zealand will need points of difference to continue to compete in those markets. Being clean, green, sustainable and high quality will become more and more important.

Our clean green image is, according to one MFE report, worth $30,000 in annual income to an average dairy farmer in NZ but that image is under threat as a consequence of unsustainable intensive farming practises. Our lowland waterways and farmlands are already significantly polluted as a consequence of the over use of nitrogen based fertilisers and synthetic chemicals. The policies advocated by Mr Pedersen can only hasten that degradation not reverse it, as we need to do.

The fact is that the policies advocated by Mr. Pedersen will in reality only jeopardise the medium to long term viability of our primary production industry for very short-term gain. It is only through sustainable farming practises such as organic production and the preservation and protection of our natural environment that we have any chance of securing a sustainable future.”

ENDS

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