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Dirty dairy conversions an environmental problem

29 October 2008
Dirty dairy conversions an environmental problem for NZ

Greenpeace's direct actions to highlight environmental problems caused by industrial farming in the central north island draws attention to results of the Government's failure to include agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme along with other sectors of the economy, says the Green Party.

While the forestry sector now faces a penalty for deforestation, farmers are not paying the carbon costs of the increased emissions from dairy cows when the land is converted. It's made worse by the fact that the Government's own enterprise - Landcorp - is carrying out many of the conversions, Greens Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

She says subsidising dairy farming by having the taxpayer cover its climate costs for five years is immediately capitalised into land values.

"Those conversions will also result in huge nitrogen loads being pumped into the rivers of the central north island, and farmers are not charged for that either.

"The increased value of land converted to dairying may outweigh the cost of the deforestation penalties the forest industry has to face. And meanwhile the dairy farmers struggle to make a profit with falling export prices when they have to cover the cost of those ridiculously high land values," Ms Fitzsimons says.

"One of the reasons dairy conversions are still happening so fast is that National candidates have been telling farmers they will never have to fund the cost of their emissions. Many farmers I've talked to believe that, under National, New Zealand would withdraw from Kyoto.

"This is not the message John Key has been giving but he needs to come clean and tell us which of his candidates are right about their policy."


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