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Federated Farmers stuck in the mud

Federated Farmers stuck in the mud

Federated Farmers is stuck in the mud over the forward-thinking Fonterra initiative to deal with waterways polluted by dairying, Green Party Agriculture Spokesperson Ian Ewen-Street said today.

"The question has to be asked, is Federated Farmers listening to their membership on this issue? Most dairy farmers would want to do their bit for the environment, and not be short-sighted in the way Federated Farmers' dairy section has become.

"If all dairy farmers cleaned up their act and stopped polluting waterways, it would be a win-win situation for everyone -the environment, all land and water users, and particularly for dairy farmers themselves. Dairy farmers will get big ticks domestically and internationally, from commodity buyers and individual consumers, if they live up to their clean green claims."

Fonterra's draft proposal, called the Clean Streams Accord, calls for dairy farmers to fence cattle out of 50% of streams, rivers and lakes by 2007, and 90% by 2012. It also calls for 50% of regular stock crossing points through waterways to have bridges or culverts by 2007, and 90% by 2012. All farm dairy effluent discharges would have to immediately comply with resource consents and regional plans.

"Even though this time scale is incredibly long and does not adequately address the minority of cowboys who are harming the reputation of the majority of dairy farmers, it is at least a step in the right direction," Mr Ewen-Street said. "I am dismayed by Federated Farmers' negative attitude."

The plan was developed by Fonterra in conjunction with regional councils, the Environment Ministry, and the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.

Federated Farmers' dairy section has been vociferous in its opposition to the proposal, which it sees as being dictated from on high.

Mr Ewen-Street said this view was short-sighted, and Federated Farmers was rapidly consolidating its reputation for not always reflecting the views of its members.

"Surveys have shown in the past that about 70 per cent of farmers oppose genetic engineering, but the federation's stance is to support it in a de facto way, by saying they want to give farmers choice, even though that is a deeply flawed argument. If Federated Farmers keeps going against the wishes of the majority of their members, they will begin leaching members in the same way that dairy cattle are leaching effluent into our waterways," he said.


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