Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Kiwis say dairying has gone too far

Kiwis say dairying has gone too far

A new independent survey shows New Zealanders believe the economy is either too heavily dependent on dairy farming (37%) or the growth of intensive dairying has gone too far (31%).

Only 19% believe the country should continue to grow dairy farming, with more cows per hectare if necessary, the survey finds.

The ‘Farming and the Environment Survey’ of 3134 respondents aged 18+ was commissioned by Fish & Game NZ and conducted independently by Horizon Research Limited, with a margin of error of just ±1.8%.

Fish & Game NZ chief executive Bryce Johnson says while the organisation’s primary interest relates to the habitat of trout and salmon and the pursuits of freshwater angling and game bird hunting which are enjoyed by many thousands of New Zealanders, this research proves that Fish & Game and the wider public are united when it comes to freshwater issues.

“The sole focus on ramping up primary sector growth – notably intensive dairying – whatever the costs, has put the economy on a collision course with the environment and public opinion,” he says.

“What this research shows is that nine out of 10 New Zealanders fundamentally link their Kiwi identity and lifestyle to their natural environment. It also exposes that a very clear risk of losing support exists for political parties which introduce policies promoting economic growth without guaranteed safeguards to protect the environment.

“Kiwis are clearly very concerned about both the economic direction we're heading in, as well as the impact it is having on the environment and lifestyle, particularly our waterways and the ability to recreate and gather food from them.”

Asked about New Zealand’s rivers and streams, over 92% said either all waterways (56.8%) or the majority (35.8%) ‘should be safe for swimming, fishing and food gathering’.

However, 70% of Kiwis say the expansion of dairy farming has made the quality of our fresh water worse than it was 20 years. Only 6% believe it is better. Even among farm managers and owners, there was agreement (65%) that water quality has worsened after two decades of unconstrained dairy growth.

“Contrary to the current situation in which the general public is picking up the bill, there is overwhelming agreement that those who pollute our waterways should be made accountable for their restoration,” Mr Johnson points out.

Some 89% support this view while only 1.6% disagree. Agreement for this polluter-pays principle sweeps across all occupations, including farm owners and managers (76%) and supporters of all political parties in Parliament.

Of particular interest was the strong overall support (73%) for requiring dairy companies to take formal responsibility for the environmental performance of their contracted suppliers – currently not the case, with the struggling role falling to regional councils funded by ordinary ratepayers.

“Surprisingly, this support rises to 82% among farm owners and managers, so there’s very little political risk in addressing this oversight,” says Mr Johnson. “This could probably be handled in part via a simple amendment to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001, and would have the effect of internalising the accountability and cost where it belongs."

Actions farmers are expected to take under the voluntary new Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord were presented to respondents – such actions are to take place in the next six to 16 years, with no obvious sanctions for not meeting the targets.

Almost eight out of every 10 New Zealanders want livestock fenced out of waterways – including small streams currently not part of the accord – as a mandatory requirement; there is 70% agreement for farmers implementing the accord within five years or less; 60% want compliance with the accord to be regulated, with a further 30% wanting regulation if the voluntary moves fail to improve water quality.

Mr Johnson expects that the survey results will come as a shock to many in the agriculture sector where the long-held presumption has been that farming enjoys the popular support of the wider public.

“That has clearly all changed as a consequence of the bullish attitude of the dairy industry, and while many farmers are doing their best environmentally the sector has simply gone too far with the industry leadership and regional councils failing to deal with the poor performers.

“The survey results speak for themselves, and the dairy companies now have to assume the pivotal role of dealing to the poor performers in their industry in defence of those good farmers.

“It’s clear Kiwis aren’t buying into the industry or Government spin about their commitment to improved water quality.

“What is desperately needed is a new strategy to farm smarter – Tomorrow’s Farming Today! It is helpful that there is a growing body of evidence and independent experts promoting a shift away from dairy companies’ push for volume towards individual farmer profit – fewer cows, on the same amount of land, requiring less fertiliser, labour and animal health inputs.

“The need to require the dairy industry to be on an environmentally sustainable footing is a no-brainer in the minds of the vast majority of Kiwis. The sector might believe it enjoys a ‘licence to operate’ but that is quite clearly in the process of being withdrawn by the public.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines



Gordon Campbell: On John Key’s Trip To Iraq

In the embedded press coverage on this trip, the absence so far of any evaluation of the wider context of what New Zealand thinks it is doing at Camp Taji has been striking. More>>


Labour: Parata Puts Brakes On Charter School Appraisal

“When the Ministry of Education recommended they compare the achievements of children at charter schools to those of their counterparts at state schools, the documents show Hekia Parata specifically prohibited them from doing so." More>>


Bad Day For Universities: Gun, Bomb Threats On Three Campuses

Dunedin Police are continuing their investigation into the threat made against the University of Otago. Staff are following a number of lines of inquiry, and police are working to verify the authenticity and source of the post. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The TPP Deal Reached In Atlanta

Yes, the TPP has helped to knock a few points off the tariffs facing our exporters. Yet some of those alleged dollar gains may well have been made regardless over time – and without the negative baggage of the concessions in the non-trade areas (intellectual property, copyright extensions, investor-state dispute mechanisms etc) that the TPP deal also brings in its wake. More>> (Cartoon by Dave Wolland)

Public Summaries:


Wellington.Scoop: Serco – First The Prisons, And Now It Wants To Run The Trains

As the government continues its inquiry into Serco’s discredited administration of Mt Eden prison in Auckland, here in Wellington there’s further scrutiny of the British outsourcing company – because it’s competing to take over the running of our commuter trains. More>>


Pre-Signing: Gordon Campbell On The TPP Countdown

To date, the Key government has been unwilling to share any information about this TPP deal until it is too late for outraged public opinion to affect the outcome... the disclosure process is likely to consist of a similarly skewed and careful exercise in spin. More>>


Australia Deportations: English Relaxed On Immigration Centre Conditions

Labour's Annette King: “There have been numerous reports from inside these detention centres on just how bad conditions are... If they were being held in any other foreign jail, I imagine Mr English would be somewhat concerned. More>>


Schools: Achievement-Based Funding Would Be A Disaster

The Education Minister’s speech to the PPTA Conference raising the spectre of achievement data driving a new funding system would be disastrous, says NZEI Te Riu Roa. More>>

  • Video Out-Link - PPTA Annual Conference 2015 on Livestream (Q+A dicussion suggests funding would be directed to less successful schools.)

  • ALSO:

    ECE Report:

    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news