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MAF statistics show Green’s irrigation charge affordable

28 August 2011

MAF statistics show Green’s irrigation charge affordable

Recent farm profitability statistics released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry show that the Green Party’s suggested charge for irrigation is 4.8 percent of total farm income for the average Canterbury dairy operation, the Green Party said today.

“Many farms in New Zealand don’t use any irrigation water, but even in Canterbury – which uses 65 percent of New Zealand’s irrigation water MAF statistics show farms will remain very profitable,” said Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman.

Dr Norman was responding to Irrigation New Zealand’s Chief Executive Andrew Curtis, who calculated that the Green Party’s suggested irrigation charge would cost a 210 hectare dairy operation in Canterbury $84,000-$105,000 per year.

“MAF’s typical dairy farm in Canterbury has a net cash income of $2.2 million, so even using Irrigation New Zealand’s own hefty numbers for water use, we find that our irrigation charge is only 4.8 percent of income,” Dr Norman said.

“Our charge is 1/100th of a cent per litre. When irrigators are complaining of the high fees they would pay, it just goes to show that they are using massive amounts of our public water resource.

“Furthermore, the MAF profitability statistics for 2010/11 show that after paying our suggested charge for irrigation water, Canterbury dairy farmers would still on, average, receive over $500,000 in farm profit before tax.

“Businesses that use public water resources to generate private profit should pay.

“A charge on irrigation water is an effective price signal to more efficiently allocate a scarce resource and is in line with the OECD recommendation that we put a price on agricultural uses of water.

“Irrigation drives land use intensification, which scientists identify as the major cause of water quality degradation in New Zealand.

“Our kids have a birthright to swim in our rivers and lakes, but our waterways are now so polluted that we risk losing this precious heritage,” said Dr Norman.

The proposed charge for irrigation water is one of three elements to the Green Party plan to make our rivers and lakes clean enough to swim in again. The other two are setting national standards for clean water, and supporting water clean-up initiatives.

ends


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