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Landcorp Behind the Times on Organics

Landcorp Behind the Times on Organics

Landcorp's resistance to organic production flies in the face of truth, sustainability and competitive advantage, according to Soil & Health Association spokesperson Steffan Browning.

"While the Indian state of Kerala is moving to organics to correct its sustainability problems, it seems that Landcorp doesn't understand sustainability and is looking for excuses to avoid lifting its game."

A State Owned Enterprise, Landcorp Farming Limited is New Zealand's largest agricultural enterprise running 1.5 million stock units - sheep, beef and dairy cattle, deer and goats - on 110 farming units totalling 383,033 hectares.

Landcorp's Chris Kelly stated on National Radio's Rural Report recently that organics finds the use of nicotine, arsenic and copper remedies acceptable, and that market premiums do not justify switching to organics. (Transcript below)

"Mr Kelly's assertions appear to be taken directly from old agribusiness propaganda that is used to promote unsustainable chemical pesticide and fertiliser manufacturing and use. While chemical pesticide and feriliser use is hugely profitable to the agrichemical manufacturers, it is often harmful to environmental and community health. It is unfortunate that Landcorp swallows such misinformation," said Mr Browning.

"Nicotine and arsenic remedies have never been accepted by organic certifiers. In the case of copper, certifiers like BioGro and Organic Farm NZ, are very careful about its use."

"Copper is restricted to a few less aggressive formulations, with growers not permitted to use in excess of 3kg per hectare, and management plans showing a move to alternatives. Conventional agriculture doesn't have such limits. Arsenic, contrary to Mr Kelly's statement, is not allowed and is even being phased out of posts, with BioGro growers now moving to alternatives. Landcorp, instead of being misleading, would do well to do the same."

"We also know that Landcorp was offered a 20% price premium by Fonterra, but to dodge moving to more sustainable organic dairy production said they needed 25%."

"It is time for Landcorp to lift its game, lead by example and dump its archaic chemical regime of excess fertilisers, pesticides and soil degrading nitrification inhibitors, and instead move to soil building, carbon sequestering, animal-friendly, genuinely sustainable organic farming techniques."

Due to soil depletion through 'chemical farming' the Indian state of Kerala is to begin moving its districts into 'Organic Farming Zones', in a bid to save the state from the entry of genetically modified crops and the further use of chemical pesticides. (URL below)

Kerala State Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran, has said, "Irrespective of party affiliations, all the Assembly members will stand united on the decision to finalise Kerala's organic farming policy." Other southern Indian states are also developing organic policies in response to organic success and serious sustainability issues from conventional and GE cropping.

"Soil & Health has a vision of an Organic 2020. Such a vision is already being grasped internationally as sustainability issues mount, and for New Zealand's competitive clean green market reputation and advantage to be maintained, it is timely for Landcorp to show the sustainable organic way here," said Mr Browning.


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