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Public perception at a turning point

16 December 2013

Public perception at a turning point

Federated Farmers believes the nation’s perception of the environment is at a turning point, looking at the Lincoln lecturer’s Public Perception’s report for 2013.

“Just as it has taken time to see signs of improvements in some areas for water quality, it will take time for the public perception to also turn around,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“I am not surprised the report shows a shift towards a negative public perception of the environment as the significant efforts underway do take a while to bear fruit.

Most farmers are also wonderful stewards of the environment, but as clearly shown in the recent PCE Report the challenge has been the extraordinary speed of dairying growth over the last decade. Intensive farming puts pressure on water as does population growth in the cities. We just have to get better at managing the impacts.

“We all want clean water and much more effort is now going into better managing the impacts of farming with the results starting to show. I am confident this will lead to a turn in public perceptions within the next few years.

“We have had lots of negative press around water quality and the challenge we face around this is that the positive stories are often too technical or difficult to report. You will understand better if I list some: riparian plantings, stock exclusion, sediment traps, on-farm effluent systems, precision agriculture for fertiliser application, ground sensors, GPS- based irrigators, better pasture and animal genomics, as well as stand-off pads, not to mention herd homes/wintering barns. Just recently, Fonterra announced that their farmers had fenced off over 20,000 kilometres of New Zealand waterways.

“As a result we are now seeing reports showing improvements in water quality with the Ministry for the Environment’s report on our river conditions, this year, showing 90 percent of our waterways either stable or improving. This does not mean that we have got everything right, but it does mean we are there working it out and investing in our environmental future,” concluded Mr Wills.


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