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Dairy desperately needs social licence to operate

Media release from Fish & Game NZ

Dairy desperately needs social licence to operate

The latest Public Perceptions of the NZ Environment report puts even more pressure on the dairy sector to earn a social licence to operate from the Kiwi public, according to Fish & Game NZ.

Chief executive Bryce Johnson says the survey – now in its seventh iteration and the longest running of its kind in the world – shows New Zealanders have had enough of the dairy industry’s adverse impact on the country’s freshwater resources.

“Key findings by Professor Ken Hughey and his research team at Lincoln University identify that water related issues are rated the most important environmental issue facing New Zealand, and farming is perceived to be the main causes of the problem.

“When you combine these findings with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent report showing too many cows in too many places are exacting a huge toll on our rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater, it’s clear the industry desperately needs a new model if it wants the support of the New Zealand public.”

Mr Johnson points out that there is a growing body of evidence and experts exposing the flaws in the current dairy industry’s ‘production at all costs’ mode of operation.

“What they’re showing, from working examples, is that reduced stocking rates with better-fed cows that live longer, get in-calf easier, suffer less disease and require less inputs, can be as profitable as the current high-stocking rate regime – all this with a much reduced environmental footprint, less stress and better margins for the farmers.

“This is ‘tomorrow’s farming today’ and it’s where the dairy industry must transition to now.

“The Government and Federated Farmers should get in behind this rather than pushing economically marginal ‘Think Big’ irrigation schemes for more intensive dairying in dry areas completely ill-suited to such water-intensive land use.

“The New Zealand public does not want to subsidise further freshwater pollution. Kiwis aren’t stupid and they won’t be duped by hollow promises of economic windfall – they care deeply about the natural environment, and particularly our fresh waterways for which there is overwhelming concern.

“Freshwater quality is shaping up to be a major election issue. The public demands meaningful measures to protect and improve the state of our rivers, streams and lakes, not weak environmental legislation – like the Government’s intentions to sabotage the environmental protection provisions of the RMA – all designed to pave the way for more intensive dairying.”


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