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Report on sustainability of agriculture is useful

Report on sustainability of agriculture is useful

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report on the sustainability of agriculture was an important contribution, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton said today.

The Parliamentary Commissioner today published a report, “Growing for Good: Intensive farming, sustainability and New Zealand’s environment”.

Mr Sutton said the issues surrounding sustainability were important, and it was good to see the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment addressing them.

“This report is a good overview of the sustainability issues facing New Zealand farming. The report takes a broad perspective on sustainability and overviews a range of issues which are likely to stimulate considerable debate.”

Mr Sutton said the Government had already implemented many policies in the areas in the report, under a focus on sustainable development.

A key one was the agreement facilitated between the dairy industry, local government, and central government – the Clean Streams Accord – that addresses issues of intensive dairy farming.

“A recent survey of all dairy farmers carried out under the Dairy and Clean Streams Accord found that:

• 62% of farmers have stock excluded from farm waterways;

• more than 50% of regular crossing-points have bridges or culverts;

• 99% of suppliers who require resource consents for dairy farm effluent have them;

• 17% of dairy farmers have an input/output nutrient management system; and

• where regionally significant wetlands have been identified, more than 50% have been fenced.

Mr Sutton said that the Sustainable Farming Fund has funded 101 specific projects addressing the issues the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment raises in his report, with a total investment of more than $17 million of taxpayer funding.

He said the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry also had a significant history of leadership in sustainable agriculture, notably:

• Development of a sustainable agriculture position and facilitation programme from 1993;
• Initiation and development of Overseer (a nutrient balance fertilizer management programme);
• Initiation of the ‘Focus Farm Programme’, which spawned amongst other things, the ‘Kiwi Green Programme’ and the pipfruit Integrated Fruit Production (IFP);
• The OECD position on Sustainable Agriculture;
• The Dairy and Clean Streams Accord; and
• Joint leadership for the Water Programme of Action, which has a close study of irrigation.

Mr Sutton said the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s report would be studied closely to see where further improvements could be made.

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