What is this article all about you may ask and the headline would suggest that you should ask that question. So let’s look at some facts behind this headline.
The world climate is changing.
Farming has an effect on the climate.
Urban areas also have an equal or greater effect on the climate.
Farming has an effect on water quality.
Urban areas also have an equal or greater effect on water quality.
We require three basic things to survive, Food, Air & Water.
The current government has released an Action Plan to Improve water Quality in all of our waterways.
That plan is based mainly around the farming industries in New Zealand taking action to improve water quality in all of our waterways.
This is going to have a very significant effect on the rural communities that service the farming industries.
The Waikato Regional Council has released its proposed plan change (PC1) and this is currently still in the hearings process with the board of commissioners examining all of the hearing evidence prior to making a decision as to any changes they may recommend.
This plan is solely based on the farming industries in the Waikato Region taking actions to improve water quality in our waterways.
The land use intensification rules under PC1 will eventually mean that all commercial vegetable production will become a non-complying activity.
To comply with the Governments new Action Plan for Healthy Rivers, new National Policy Standards for water quality and the Waikato Regional Councils PC1 will require a reduction in farm animal numbers with a resulting decrease in primary production.
The over-riding legislation under which this is being done is the Resource Management Act (RMA).
The purpose of this Act is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources.
Sustainable management means:
Managing the use, development, and protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while—
(a) sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources (excluding minerals) to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and
(b) safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and
(c) avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.
We all need to do whatever we can to protect and improve water quality in our waterways.
The madness starts when we look at all of the proposed new environmental legislation around water quality and realise that the bureaucrats have completely ignored two of the main requirements of sustainable management under the RMA (enabling communities to provide for their SOCIAL & ECONOMIC wellbeing).
The madness gets worse when you realise that with all of the proposed new requirements around water quality, that farming in New Zealand is being singled out as the sole cause of all of the degradation and being required to fix it. With the proposed solutions resulting in very significant changes to the farming industries and their rural supporting communities.
In the Waikato Region alone there has been modelling done that shows the results of the new Action Plan will be a 68% reduction in the drystock farming industry and a 13% reduction in dairying with a 160% increase in forestry.
The madness is explained when you realise that these figures don’t actually describe the most likely outcomes.
Given that forestry requires a large injection of capital at the development stage then ongoing smaller investments in maintenance and a waiting period of up to thirty years before you can get a return on your investment, the likelihood of all of those farmers that make up the 68% of drystock and 13% of dairying be able to change to forestry is almost zero.
What is most likely is that they will be made bankrupt and have to walk off their farms and this will then lead to a significant reduction in employment opportunities in the rural towns causing many people to move out in search of stable employment, most likely in the larger cities, leaving a large number of rural ghost towns.
The madness gets even worse when you think about the result of the reduction in primary production from New Zealand’s farming industries. - A reduction in primary exports with the resulting drop in our overseas income and likely difficulties in meeting our balance of payments, and more than likely a recession in NZ.
Then you have to take into account that even though we can stand and shout that we are leading the world in climate change actions, we are in actual fact making it much worse if you take a world view.
This is where the madness is perpetuated again. We produce primary products that are landed in Europe with a lower environmental footprint when landed there, than products produced in Europe. The population of Europe will still need those products to feed themselves and this will only result in them shifting their supplier base to other countries that have a worse environmental footprint than we do.
But that’s all right because we are leading the world and it doesn’t affect us in NZ anyway.
The madness is thinking that we can lead the world in the first place and in the second place ignoring the economic results of this decision making.
Yes we do need to take action to
improve water quality, yes we have done some good things
already and yes there will be more that we can do and better
technology may help us as it is developed, but not at the
expense of bankrupting our country or decimating our food