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Dairy-led water accords do nothing to stop intensification

PR: Dairy-led water accords do nothing to stop intensification – freshwater campaigners

4pm Monday, September 2, 2019

Dairy industry-led water accords have done nothing to stop intensification over the last decades, which has led to the decline of the health of the country’s rivers and lakes, say freshwater campaigners. And there is no commitment from dairy leaders to stop further intensification.

Today’s announcement from dairy leaders on their Sustainable Dairy: Water Accord ignores the significant intensification of dairying that has occurred since the industry first put an accord in place.

“Since 2003, dairy leaders have been using voluntary accords to suggest they are caring for the country’s waterways while at the same time the use of nitrogen fertiliser and the number of cows have continued to climb, with the health of rivers and lakes and the public paying the price,” says Choose Clean Water campaign spokesperson Marnie Prickett.

The Dairy and Clean Streams accord was signed in 2003 and the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord began ten years later in 2013. Despite this, the pressure from intensive dairy on rivers, lakes and groundwater has increased.

Since 2003, nitrogen fertiliser use increased more than 30% from 323,000 tonnes to 429,000 tonnes, according to the latest Stats NZ data. Additionally, the latest Stats NZ data shows, cow numbers increased from 5.1 to 6.5 million from 2003 to 2017.

“Dairy industry leaders have failed to act responsibly to curb intensification. Despite warnings from many that the intensification of agriculture, particularly dairy, would have serious consequences for freshwater and for the country, dairy leaders have continued to encourage farmers to intensify and all New Zealanders have witnessed the consequences this has had for our rivers and lakes.”

“Dairy leaders fail to accept responsibility for the enormous impact intensive dairy farming has had on fresh water. They do not include any statistics on the state of waterways and ignore important information such the fact that the health of waterways, measured through biological indicators – the life that lives in rivers and streams – is declining at a majority of sites.”

“Where are the freshwater scientists celebrating the dairy industry’s influence on water quality? They can’t because intensive dairy has been a disaster for our rivers and lakes and its impacts remain high with no commitment from dairy leaders to stop further intensification.”


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