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PCE report shows dairying out of control, Fish & Game NZ

Media release from Fish & Game NZ

PCE report shows dairying out of control, Fish & Game NZ

A report released by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) today shows unlimited dairy growth over the past two decades has exacted too great a toll on New Zealand and its waterways and that this is set to continue for years to come, says Fish & Game NZ. 

“This report vindicates Fish & Game’s strong stance through its ‘Dirty Dairying’ campaign against the industry and the urgent need to clean up its act,” says chief executive Bryce Johnson.

“It confirms our experience of the past and our concerns for the future – that even with good management practice, including mitigation of nutrient loss from farmland and a conservative analysis from reputable scientists, further declines in water quality from dairy intensification will continue if dairy expansion is not limited.

“More importantly though, it serves as a stark warning that the nation is at a crossroads: we can either continue with the Government's and primary production sector’s agenda of doubling agricultural output by 2025 – completely wrecking the environment, our waterways, our estuaries and beaches, our tourism sector, our international brand, and the kiwi way of life in the process – or we can look at smarter ways to grow the economy.

“Subsidising ‘Think Big’ irrigation dams to ramp up production of low value commodities whilst wrecking the environment for the rest of the citizens is no longer acceptable to a growing number of New Zealanders.

“The Government, the lobby groups and primary sector pushing for more of this unsustainable growth, refuse to acknowledge that there are limits to how much our environment and the other industries that rely on our 100% pure image for environmentally sustainable business can take.

"The PCE's report shows that we are beyond those limits, that intensive agricultural has gone too far and is out of control.

“Instead of taking a lead and addressing the issue, the Government is doing everything it can to facilitate more dairy growth by using taxpayer funds to subsidise irrigation dams, weakening the RMA, winding down previous moves to improve state of the environment reporting, and producing a totally incomplete National Objective Framework for freshwater.

“What’s more, the Government has sought to woo the environmental sector into so-called ‘collaborative processes’ such as the Land and Water Forum, and then announced legislative reforms that will effectively turn the RMA into an ‘Economic Development Act’ (in the words of the PCE) at the expense of natural resource protection.

“My sense is that the New Zealand public has had enough. Kiwis are already paying a hefty toll for past dairy industry activity by directly subsidising the clean-up of iconic waters such as lakes Taupo and Rotorua; in parts of the country nitrate pollution in drinking water has been termed ‘a ticking time bomb’ and public health risk; most lowland waterways are too polluted for swimming, fishing and gathering food, and there are flow-on effects which are impacting our beaches and marine environment,” says Mr Johnson.

“What we have seen over the past two decades is a massive wealth transfer of natural capital from the public to the dairy sector – the costs of degrading our environment have been socialised, the profits privatised. It’s time the polluters paid so that the costs are no longer lumped on the New Zealand public and future generations!”

The dairy sector has failed to gain a social licence to operate, and it is long overdue for the industry to be moved onto a mandatory environmentally sustainable footing, according to Fish & Game.

“Further unregulated dairy expansion is not in the best interest of our economy or our environment. If the Government and the dairy industry fail to act on the warnings in this report they will essentially be giving two fingers to the next generation,” says Mr Johnson.


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