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Call for public enquiry into the future of farming

Press release for immediate release – Fish & Game NZ

Fish & Game calls for public enquiry into the future of farming

Fish & Game NZ is calling for a public enquiry “to examine the future of agriculture in New Zealand”.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson suggested the move in a presentation to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee today where he was invited to discuss the future of farming following the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recent critical report on land use and nutrient pollution in waterways.

In his submission Mr Johnson explained the impact intensive agriculture is having on waterways.

“Two recent public polls confirm the wider public is clearly engaged in the issue now – and the overwhelming majority want the dairy sector to adopt a different way of operating in the future,” he says.

“The language of ‘limits’ is becoming increasingly prevalent. Last year’s One Plan ruling, and the Board of Inquiry’s (BOI) decision yesterday to turn down Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s flawed single nutrient management approach in the Tukituki Plan Change case, has clearly brought matters to a head.

“In light of the BOI decision the Government is going to have to rethink its National Policy Statement on Freshwater and National Objectives Framework.

“Dairy farmers and the rural lending sector need stability and they don’t have that with goal posts constantly being changed to fit political agendas. The present debate around the topic has simply become too politicised and that’s why the best outcome can be achieved through an independent review.

“This would lift the issues out of the contestable arena of the Courts and enable a thorough examination of the environmental, economic and social elements. What is the alternative?”

Fish & Game presented to the select committee alongside agricultural consultant Dr Alison Dewes whose research findings had demonstrated to the BOI the continued profitability of dairy farming under less intensive regimes with corresponding lower environmental footprint.

“It is this work, and the emerging trends in best practice it identifies, that we believe provides the best solution – a win for individual farmers, and a win for our waterways. ‘Tomorrow’s Farming Today’ is where our future lies – ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option.”

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