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Proposed freshwater protections like election satire

3 September 2014 – Wellington

Forest & Bird media release for immediate use

Forest & Bird likens proposed freshwater protections to election satire

Forest & Bird says new rules proposed by the National Party on keeping stock out of waterways would double-up on an industry-wide accord that would come into effect a month before, requiring farmers to do exactly the same.

The Party’s freshwater policy, released today, states that dairy cattle will be banned from all waterways from July 2017. But the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord – which was signed by all New Zealand dairy companies, and so applies to all farmer suppliers – will have achieved its goal of keeping all dairy cattle out of the country’s waterways by the end of May 2017 – a month earlier.

Forest & Bird Group Manager Campaigns and Advocacy Kevin Hackwell says it appears almost as though the National Party is making an attempt at satire.

“Is the National Party trying to inject some humour into the election? Any regulation after the accord - that achieves the same goal - would clearly be pointless. We’ve all heard of light-touch regulation, but this is ridiculous.”

The National Party also says it will spend $100 million a year, for ten years, on buying and retiring farmland - in order to improve water quality.

“Given the very high price of farm land, this money won’t even touch the sides. The quality of New Zealand’s lowland lakes and rivers has plummeted because there are too many dairy cows on our farms. As a result, there is too much nitrogen, which comes from cattle urine, and too much fertiliser entering our waterways,” Kevin Hackwell says.

“The $100 million would be much better spent helping farmers reduce their environmental impacts, by employing farm advisors to help them adopt best practice.

“In addition, it is clear that certain parts of the country must never be converted to dairying. Throwing public money at buying bits of expensive land will not fix the problem,” Kevin Hackwell says.


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