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Give Agriculture a Fair Go



12 June 2018

Currently there many groups out there, large and small, that seem to believe that farming is the root of all evil in relation to the environment. They make statements about intensive agriculture and pastoral farming being emitters of methane, farming in prestigious landscapes, adding to CO2, polluting the water ways etc. as if these are the only sources of pollution.

The agricultural industries are the first to admit that they have an effect on the environment but it is not all bad and they have taken huge steps to improve the detrimental effects that they have on the environment.

We all have an effect on the environment as a result of our civilised way of living. For centuries man has always tended to locate towns and cities close to waterways for supply of drinking water and transportation. As a result of this man has also used the adjacent waterways as a convenient means of disposing of his waste and it is only in the last century or so that we have taken steps to treat the waste before it is put into the waterways.

To this day most towns and cities still dispose of their stormwater and treated effluent by pouring it into the nearest waterway or into the ocean.

“In the light of the above the agricultural industries are asking that they be given a fair go.”

Have these groups looked at what agriculture has done for this country and what has already been done to mitigate the effects from agricultural operations and the millions of dollars that farmers have already and are still spending to mitigate these effects. We have seen farmers 25 years ago who recognised that water quality was an issue and started to address the problem then. As a consequence of that they have addressed a lot of the current issues like keeping stock out of waterways, sediment control, fencing, tree planting, building wetlands etc.

By planting forests, woodlots and individual trees farmers have helped stabilise hillsides and stop erosion which reduces sediment going into streams & provides shade for stock. The amount of fencing that has taken place to keep stock out of waterways is huge and that has helped improve water quality. The riparian planting that has taken place alongside waterways is also helping in keeping the invertebrates in these streams. Many farmers have fenced off native bush, wet sumps, and wetlands and even built new wetlands to help treat the runoff from their farms.

The unintended consequence of these actions is that farmers have been doing their bit for climate change in tree planting and protecting native bush and wetlands without the bureaucracy telling them what they needed to do.

A lot of these groups seem to have preconceived ideas about what farming hasn’t done to protect the environment, and sometimes make statements that have little basis in fact, and ask for money to fight the agricultural sector with. They seem to have forgotten, or conveniently ignore the fact that the agricultural industries provide the bulk of New Zealand’s overseas income as well as providing the majority of the local population’s food requirements.

When these groups have got their wish and stopped the pastoral farming in New Zealand, where are they going to get the food to feed the nation or the income to pay our bills.

Maybe they are going to turn to support the production of genetically modified food grown in petrey dishes in laboratories.

If we are to carry on living in the manner which we currently do then what is needed is a balanced viewpoint based on reality that allows for the way forward to be sustainable as well as environment friendly.

The agricultural industries are not denying that they have an effect on the environment but as a much needed part of the food chain and the national economy and having already voluntarily taken many mitigation measures, are merely asking for a “FAIR GO” as they are not the root of all evil just people going about their lawful daily work. Yes they know they will have to make changes to some of the things that they do now but they are staffed by some very resilient people and given some encouragement, rather than being described as the equivalent of environmental vandals, they will make the necessary changes.

But be assured they will expect the rules to be the same for all parts of our society not just the agricultural industries.


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