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Fed Farmers fight against new rules

Fed Farmers acknowledge we need to improve water quality yet fight against new rules

In the face of overwhelming public opinion that farmers need to clean up after themselves, Federated Farmers has mounted an offensive to try and stop some of its members having to do just that.

Federated Farmers are still in denial that they have directly contributed to the degradation of New Zealand's long heritage of freshwater recreation, continuing to look for anyone else to blame.

This is despite the fact that researchers at Massey University, whilst examining what types of E.coli existed in the water and sediment of three major Canterbury rivers the Rangitata, Selwyn and Ashley, found that the two most common E. coli strains, 0157 and 026, only come from ruminants, such as cows.

Federated Farmers has obviously forgotten the words of its Senior Policy Advisor Darryl Sycamore, who said under oath in the Environment Court earlier this year:

"I acknowledge that we need to improve water quality now. It is clearly degraded in some locations," Mr Sycamore said on June 10.

Federated Farmers need to listen to DairyNZ Chair Jim van der Poel and Beef + Lamb NZ Chair Andrew Morrison, who in Rural News today wrote, "throwing stones, slamming our fists and stamping our feet may gain some temporary satisfaction. But in our experience, it's ineffective in advocacy, risks destroying any chance of policy gains and alienates New Zealanders."

Mr van der Poel and Mr Morrison also noted that "we don't want to be on the wrong side of history" and "we're not just thinking about tomorrow, we're thinking 20 to 30 years ahead to the next generation of farmers."

"Federated Farmers should follow this sound advice from their fellow sector leaders," Fish & Game New Zealand Chief Executive Martin Taylor says.

"Many farmers don't want to be on the wrong side of history.

"That's why they are already following good practice and taking action to reduce their impact on freshwater. The new standards should have minimal implications for these farmers.

"However, farming's bad performers are having a disproportionate effect and are severely damaging our rivers, lakes and streams, taking away the ability of Kiwis to enjoy their waterways.

"The proposals in the Government's discussion document are intended to make sure everyone contributes. It's the view of Fish & Game New Zealand that best practice should become usual mandatory practice."

A recent Colmar Brunton poll conducted for Fish & Game New Zealand showed that pollution of our rivers and lakes remains a top concern for Kiwis, with two-thirds expecting the Government to put rules and regulations in place to protect water quality. Three quarters - 77 per cent - of those surveyed said they were extremely or very concerned about the pollution of lakes and rivers.

"With Federated Farmers talking out both sides of their mouth, maybe they should start listening to the public and acting to rectify the damage they have done to New Zealand," Mr Taylor concluded.


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