Ag. leaders beef-up pressure against river clean-ups
Regional councils must resist new pressure from farming leaders who seem to want to stop council moves to enforce effluent consents and clean up rivers, the Green Party says.
“I’m amazed the headline ‘Disappointing Environment’ in the latest Federated Farmers Dairy Alert publication out today is not at all about the ‘disappointing environment’ for our polluted lakes and rivers but about a ‘disappointing political environment’ for industrial dairy polluters,” Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman says.
“Farming leaders are becoming dinosaurs who refuse to acknowledge New Zealanders won’t accept further waterway pollution and neither will world markets where we promote our ‘clean, green' brand.”
Dairy Alert says, under the “Disappointing Environment” heading, “It is disappointing to see the negative campaigns being run by regional councils toward dairy farming. Federated Farmers Dairy, Fonterra and DairyNZ met last week to discuss a strategy going forward. Progress is being made to develop the tools and knowledge to challenge some of the mistruths that are coming out of regional councils.”
Says Dr Norman, “All regional councils are doing – and only a few are serious about this - is finally taking real action against breaches of consents and other effluent issues, some of which involve shocking individual instances of stream and river pollution. Why don’t farming leaders condemn the minority of farmers involved, rather than give the whole industry a bad name by defending these bad eggs with spin?”
Another heading in Dairy Alert is “Regional Council Crackdown” and says Federated Farmers Dairy Chairman Lachlan McKenzie, Dairy Policy Advisor Ann Thompson and Dairy NZ’s Simon Tucker “met with the Greater Wellington Regional Council in response to media releases on the problems that the council was having with non-compliance issues. Meetings like this have been happening around the country...”
Says Dr Norman, “This came after a Greater Wellington Regional Council statement last month that of 146 farms audited as a ‘snapshot’ across the region 30 percent were non-compliant and it had issued ‘38 advisory notices’, 13 ‘please explain’ letters and said seven may be fined. The pressure by these farming leaders may be why Wellington has so far refused to publicly name the fined farmers.
“The Federated Farmers Dairy Alert also comes just a week after a report on Waikato water quality showing 70 percent of that region’s rivers and streams tested were unsafe for swimming and more than 75 percent were unsafe for stock to drink from. The Environment Waikato report warned the full effects of intensive farming may not be evident for decades from now.
“The planned PR spin campaign by Fonterrra, DairyNZ and Federated Farmers and their increased pressure on regional councils is not to going to help badly polluted rivers like the Waikato.”