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Stop hitting snooze button on environment

11 December 2006

Fed Farmers must stop hitting snooze button on environment

A new international report in the environmental impacts of agriculture is another wake-up call for those in the farming community who keep hitting the snooze button, says Green Party Environment Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation has issued a report saying that the world's rapidly growing herds of cows are the greatest threat to the climate, forests and wildlife.

"Once again we are seeing international confirmation at the highest levels about the environmental impacts of livestock farming. New Zealand farmers are going to be hit hard unless they begin to really take on the message of sustainability," Nandor says.

"Many New Zealand farmers are serious about addressing the environmental impacts of their businesses, and are looking for the tools to help them do that. They are not helped by the attitude so often displayed by their representative bodies.

"Federated Farmers president Charlie Pedersen has once again shown his anti-science bias by attacking this report as 'written by a vegan'. He repeatedly seeks to evade serious debate by resorting to personal attack. This would be kind of funny, if he wasn't head of the biggest farmers' lobby group in the country.

"The Green Party says that the growing international evidence - and awareness - of the environmental impacts of livestock farming carries both opportunities and risks for New Zealand farmers.

"We have known for some time in New Zealand that agriculture is the main single source of our greenhouse gas emissions, and that dairy farming in particular is responsible for a significant proportion of our water contamination. There is a real, and difficult, challenge to turn that around - not just to meet the growing market interest in sustainable produce, but for the sake of our children.

"For Charlie Pedersen to pretend otherwise is quite misleading. The reality is that continued growth in dairying in fundamentally incompatible with a sustainable economy. Its as simple as that."

"The drive to convert other cultures to eat beef and dairy, for example, is at the heart of Fonterra's expansion plans. It may look good to farmers - but we have to look at ensuring that what we grow, and how we grow it, is fundamentally sustainable. This is not about stopping dairy farming, but about recognising that increasing intensification of dairying, for example through the Central Plains Water scheme, are untenable."


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