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Greenpeace on the Green Party’s Farm for the Future policy

Written By: - Date published: 9:21 am, September 15th, 2020 - 58 comments
Categories: election 2020, farming, greens - Tags: , , , , , ,

Press release from Greenpeace New Zealand by Gen Toop

12 September 2020

Greenpeace celebrates Green Party commitment to phase out PKE

Greenpeace is labelling the commitment to phase-out the use of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) “bold and transformational”. The commitment has just been announced as part of the Green Party Agriculture Policy.

“Synthetic fertiliser and imported feed like PKE fuel intensive dairying which is polluting our climate, degrading rivers and contaminating drinking water,” says Greenpeace agriculture campaigner Gen Toop.

“Wildfires are burning across the world and our rivers and lakes have been pushed to the brink. This is no time for half measures. Phasing out the use of PKE is exactly the kind of bold and transformational policy that is needed to deal with the climate and freshwater crises.”

New Zealand is the biggest importer of PKE in the world. It is fed to dairy cows when the stocking rate is too high for the pasture to sustain them. It is linked to deforestation and human rights abuses. Greenpeace has been drawing attention to the issue for over a decade.

“We do hope to see the Green Party extend this phase-out on PKE to cover all types of imported feed in the near future,” says Toop.

The Green Party’s commitment to give greater government support and investment to regenerative and organic farming is also being welcomed by Greenpeace.

“We’re pleased to see the Green Party announce extra support for New Zealand’s farmers to transition into regenerative organic farming which works with nature, not against it.”

“Regenerative farming is one of the best tools we have to fight the climate and ecological crises. Investment in a nationwide shift away from intensive dairying and into regenerative farming is critical to build back better after Covid-19.”

Greenpeace is calling on the Government to create a 1 billion dollar fund to help the country make the shift to regenerative farming, as part of the Covid recovery.

However, Greenpeace says the Green Party policy on restricting synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme is far too weak, and is calling on them to go “harder and faster”.

The current Government brought in a cap on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser as part of its 2020 freshwater reforms. It was set at 190 kg/ha. The Green Party have committed to progressively lowering the cap over the next 17 years.

“Successive governments have given free rein to big agri-businesses to peddle harmful inputs, like synthetic fertiliser and imported feed, that are driving the industrialisation of agriculture,” says Toop.

“We welcome the long overdue shift into putting stricter controls on these inputs and on the big agri-businesses like Ravensdown and Ballance which sell them.”

“But, putting an end to synthetic nitrogen fertiliser use needs to happen much faster than what the Green Party has proposed. We can’t afford to wait until 2037 to get rid of this climate and river wrecking chemical.”

The Green Party has also committed to bringing agriculture into the Emissions Trading scheme by 2022 at the earliest, with a 95% free subsidy, meaning the industry will only pay for 5% of its emissions. They propose that this free subsidy is reduced by 1-2% annually.

“Intensive dairying is New Zealand’s biggest climate emitter. Allowing it to continue to pollute the climate without paying its full and fair share for decades to come is incrementalism at its worst.”


Green Party Farm for the Future policy.

Greenpeace’s Regenerative Farming Revolution

Front page image of regenerative agriculture Glenlands Farm, Hawke’s Bay.

58 comments on “Greenpeace on the Green Party’s Farm for the Future policy ”

  1. greywarshark 1

    New Zealand is the biggest importer of PKE in the world. It is fed to dairy cows when the stocking rate is too high for the pasture to sustain them. It is linked to deforestation and human rights abuses. Greenpeace has been drawing attention to the issue for over a decade.

    This PKE [palm kernel expeller] excuse for raping others lands which often remove the people's ecosystems, the home of animals, and the despoiling of drinking and agricultural water, to use the palms up and the palm kernels as nutritious fodder for cows in another land which can grow sufficient for its own needs is a crime. And so far NZ government is participating in one of the grasping Right's sly deals.

    The dairy industry is ruining not only our country's resources, but others as well. And we are so lax that we have allowed foreign interests to come here and use us as a profit centre and have taken over the industry that NZ proudly built with its own resources and ownership. That is just sick, a sick joke on NZ by Mr Creosote.

    https://agrifeeds.co.nz/products/dry-feeds/palm-kernel-expeller-pke Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) is a by-product of the palm oil extraction process from the fruit of the palm. PKE is a quality stock feed containing high levels of crude protein and medium energy levels.

    And, incidentally when Palm Oil is said to have come from plantation forests, it is likely to have arisen from an egregious process where people have had their common lands, growing palms, taken over with the palms utilised by the business involved, and the plantations grown on the stolen land and owned by the business, leaving the people of the area impoverished. So palm oil are two dirty words to be regarded with suspicion whatever the stated source.

    • Grafton Gully 1.1

      PKE from plantations on stolen land to feed dairy cows on confiscated land so after a free education I can afford to eat, drink and wear what I like, get free specialist healthcare and live on NZ Super in a comfortable house worth ten times or more what I paid for it. Easy to turn a blind eye !

  2. Pat 2

    There are many good reasons to stop the use of PKE in NZ farming , not least the 300 million of foreign exchange that is required to import it but ceasing its use will not stop the forest clearing and exploitation as it is a by product.

    • Robert Guyton 2.1

      Keep doing it because if we do stop, someone else will take our place in providing the forest-destroyers with money?

      We are the primary importers of PKE. What causes you to believe that if we stop, someone else will step in to but PKE?

      And even if they did, why should that be a reason to continue contributing to environmental destruction?

      • Pat 2.1.1

        Nobody else needs to 'step in'…PKE is a by product…the main (and driving) output from the destructive practice is palm oil.

        Stop the demand for palm oil and there is no PKE

        • weka

          do both.

        • Robert Guyton

          Yes, Pat, but surely buying their waste product encourages them to continue with their practice? We don't know what other pressures they face to cease and desist their primary action (producing palm oil) but it's certain that buying their waste isn't a disincentive to their activity! We should disincentives environmental harm wherever it occurs, yes?

          • Pat

            As said, there are many reasons to stop importing PKE….but doing so wont stop the damage

          • Stuart Munro

            It may be possible, at some point, to find PKE not produced by recent massive forest felling, or operators that reforest, perhaps along the lines of Scandinavian sustainable forestry.

            Were operators to take a path that remedied the current tendency toward clear felling, it would be no bad thing if their NZ customers could reward them.

  3. bwaghorn 3

    Has the green party sorted out how to deal with any legal /trade issues that would arise by banning the importation of pke. ?

    Has the ets reduced emissions any where in the world to date?

    • Robert Guyton 3.1

      Has any one put bwaghorn's questions to the orangutans?

    • weka 3.2

      what legal/trade issues did you have in mind b?

      • bwaghorn 3.2.1

        I'm assuming well have trade deals with Indonesia, and what does the wto say about banning legally produced products?

        I dont care if e ban it I just hope the greens have done more homework than labour did around kiwibuild.

        Are the greens wanting to ban all palm oil products and if not why not.

        • weka

          Harder to ban palm oil I would guess given it's used in so many foods and products. But the Greens have been calling for mandatory labelling, which is a first step in getting the public on board with reducing demand/use. This from 2016,


        • weka

          "I'm assuming well have trade deals with Indonesia, and what does the wto say about banning legally produced products?"

          good questions.

        • Pat

          The problem is corruption….the production of palm oil (and the subsequent by products) are almost impossible to distinguish between that which is produced 'legally' and that which is not….either way, why are we adding an unnecessary offshore input into our production system with all of the potential negative impacts?

  4. Maurice 4

    "It is fed to dairy cows when the stocking rate is too high for the pasture to sustain them."

    So what do we feed all these cows on when Palm Kernel is "phased out"?

    Do they just get left to starve – or get made in to ground beef hamburger patties?

    It has to be replaced with something … and there is not enough grass …..

  5. Wayne 5

    Interesting, but almost certainly irrelevant. I can't see Labour handing over agriculture policy to the Greens anytime soon.

    Of course if the Greens got 7% or more it could all be different.

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    Both the nitrogen fertiliser ban and the PKE ban seem a little crude to me, the idea being generally good, but the choice of instrument a bit blunt. There is however a well-established legal principle, developed in response to external problems created by cattle, that should be a decent basis for addressing issues like dairy intensification, the rule from Rylands v Fletcher.

    "The person who for his own purposes brings on his lands and collects and keeps there anything likely to do mischief if it escapes, must keep it in at his peril, if he does not do so, is prima facie answerable for all the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape."'

    This might as readily be applied to excess nitrate or other pollution as it was historically to wandering cattle that ate crops. Regulations based on such a principle would drive a sudden enthusiasm for bioremediation, which can allow both a relatively intensive dairy industry and uncompromised rivers or groundwater.

    The other change that I would like to see in dairy, would be government support of the organic standards, like Demeter, that would allow interested farmers to choose a higher product value by meeting good practice standards for organic farming.

    There are scenarios in which either PKE or nitrogen fertiliser use would not be bad practice, and it would be unfortunate to rule out responsible use along with irresponsible use.

  7. Maurice 7

    Dairy brought in $12 Billions and meat $6 Billions …

    Our debt is now North of $180 Billions – i.e. TEN times the combined income of Dairy and Meat

    So perhaps we needs must wait ten years (or nearer 20 to 25 …) and pay off this huge debt before "reducing" the number of cows?

    No matter how much we would like to "reduce" Dairying we are presently (and for a considerable future) utterly reliant upon the export income from this sector.

    Unless we can come up with another $20 Billion "sustainable" income stream …

    Them's the hard facts of our present position.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      No matter how much we would like to "reduce" Dairying we are presently (and for a considerable future) utterly reliant upon the export income from this sector.

      No we're not.

      1. There is so much more that we could do that would actually bring in far more.
      2. A country doesn't actually need an income at all.

      Them's the hard facts of our present position.

      No, those are what's called lies.

      • Maurice 7.1.1
        1. There is so much more that we could do that would actually bring in far more.
        2. A country doesn't actually need an income at all.
        1. Do tell – make us a list (and tell us which one – or more that YOU are doing).

        2. And exactly what will pay for roads, hospitals, benefits and other social necessities?

        We have just borrowed – and BURNT – the equivalent of the next two generations of our wealth … it has gone largely to Supermarket chains and interim support of businesses which are about to disappear – or have already ceased to trade and so no longer provide a tax base.

        There is very little more left to invest in NEW enterprises which can produce income or wealth. The harsh economic reality is about to bite – VERY HARD.

        • Draco T Bastard

          High tech uses far less resources than cows, produces far better income (I do high tech) and doesn't pollute anywhere near as much

          No, we've just spent money that was created by the government and money is not wealth. It is, in fact, nothing.

          Wealth is the resources of the nation – the elements in the soil and the creativity of our people. So the government can create money and spend it by paying people to get those resources to where they need to be in roads, training, hospitals etcetera. And the best part is that there'd be no debt.

          There is a hell of a lot that we, as a country, could invest in to better our living standards and none of it revolves around the highly polluting farming that we've been taught, mistakenly, is the only thing we can do.

          You wouldn't know what harsh reality is. This is true for many as the delusion that is BAU has been taught as truth.

  8. Chris T 8


    No we're not.

    1. There is so much more that we could do that would actually bring in far more.
    2. A country doesn't actually need an income at all."

    Sorry mate, but like what?

    And please don't say massive new jobs in renewable energy as it is bollocks. There are only so many jobs for scientists

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      Sorry mate, but like what?

      R&D and manufacturing from our own resources.

      And please don't say massive new jobs in renewable energy as it is bollocks.

      Green Jobs Boom

      Green jobs employ millions

      There are only so many jobs for scientists

      There are an almost unlimited number of jobs for scientists. Reality is huge and we know very little about it.

      The question isn't about if there are jobs that we can have scientists doing (there is) but what other jobs we need done to support the science that would put a limit on the proportion of people we could have working on the science.

      As I keep saying: An increase in productivity should result in less jobs and thus we get to do more with the same number of people.

      That really is how a society develops and, yes, becomes wealthier.

  9. KJT 9

    @Maurice. 7.

    That is a false premise unless you show the countries, NET, income from Diary and beef.

    Dairy in particular has already exceeded the countries economic carrying capacity. The future costs in environmental degradation, debt and other foregone economic activity, of more cows, far exceed any benefits to us as a whole.

    Like mass tourism which was almost certainly a net lose to NZ, though I'm still trying to quantify exact figures, the net income from farming exports is much lower then stated.

    For just one example. The cost to New Zealand of interest on farm debt servicing. A large part of our private debt. Debt incurred way in excess of that justified by farm earnings to push land prices up, so that so called "farmers" who are really tax free Capital gains "farmers", can profit from land speculation.

    We have already talked about the import costs of stock feed.

    What is your alternative for the Government debt and QE in response to Covid?
    We have already seen that austerity to reduce debt has the opposite effect. Europe giving us some scary examples. Far from mortgaging the future the Government response has ensured we have a future.

    Lastly. Successful first world countries do not rely on cheap commodity exports. In fact we don’t either. Dairying is about 6% of GDP.

    • weka 9.1

      and that's not even getting to climate change and multi-generational water/land pollution

    • Maurice 9.2

      The interest debt on the recent Government borrowing will make the Farming Debt pale in to insignificance in future years. Also the Farm debt is based in productive economic activity – not dished out and spent on day to day basic living expenses as the QE/Government borrowing has been.

      The health and 'life' cost of the shutdown of economic activity will be far greater than that which would have occurred had we continued to work and operate our Health system (Cancer/elective surgery/other life threatening illnesses) – albeit with PPE and Social Distancing protocols. This loss of life will simply be spread out over a longer time frame.

      Ha! "First World Country" We are a third world country pretending to be in the First World – thanks to our commodity export income – which drives and enables the GDP level we are fortunate enough to have enjoyed. The massively increased debt coupled with the rejection of commodity export will soon put paid to that.

      What exactly are these "foregone economic activities" you speak of? How much of your inputs are expended upon them? Are these "shovel ready" and standing by ready to ramp up … without capital input?

      Of course climate change (warmer) and increasing CO2 will greatly enhance pasture growth – particularly in our Southern regions – so will increase our farming efficiency.

      Which just leaves us with control and mediation of pollution!

      • Draco T Bastard 9.2.1

        The interest debt on the recent Government borrowing will make the Farming Debt pale in to insignificance in future years.

        No it won't. In fact, there's even a point on this board somewhere stating that present government interest rates are negative.

        Also the Farm debt is based in productive economic activity

        No it is not. It based on uneconomic activity as it causes more damage than value.

        not dished out and spent on day to day basic living expenses as the QE/Government borrowing has been.

        So, supplying those basic living needs like food isn't economic activity?

        The health and 'life' cost of the shutdown of economic activity will be far greater than that which would have occurred had we continued to work and operate our Health system (Cancer/elective surgery/other life threatening illnesses) – albeit with PPE and Social Distancing protocols.

        No it won't. Opening up the economy, as you so obviously want, would cause far more damage.

        We are a third world country pretending to be in the First World

        Well, that's true. We've never been at the centre of the empire and instead been one of the tributaries.

        thanks to our commodity export income

        Not really. Or, to put it another way, if we hadn't thought that the only thing we could do was low grade, low pay commodity work, and had actually developed our economy we'd be much better off.

        Our focus on farming hasn't made us rich – its made us poor and getting poorer.

        The massively increased debt coupled with the rejection of commodity export will soon put paid to that.

        No, it's going to force us to branch out from being a bunch of ignorant hicks as we transform from being a farm to an actual thriving society.

        Of course climate change (warmer) and increasing CO2 will greatly enhance pasture growth

        No, it doesn't:

        Climate change’s negative effects on plants will likely outweigh any gains from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide levels

        You seem to be an uneducated idiot believing all the lies told to you.

    • Pat 9.3

      Theres one way to wipe over 4 billion US off our trade imbalance every year.


  10. KJT 10


    I'm not at all anti farming.

    I have a lot of farmers in the family.

    We need farming to have a future.

    Depleted soils, degraded environments, excessive farm debts so a few can retire rich, farms whose land costs shut out the paths youngsters had to buy their own farms, corporate farming, oversupply cutting returns, uneconomic stocking rates for a quick buck, are going to combine to destroy "family farming" as we knew it.

    @Maurice. As i’ve shown, much of our farming is destructive, not “productive” economic activity. And farm debt bears no relationship to, “productivity”. If that was the case we wouldn’t be paying 2 million dollars for farmland that returns a taxeable income of less than 20k.

    • Maurice 10.1

      I too have a farming background.

      The "productivity" I speak of is the production of high quality, energy intense FOOD which the rich of the World want to buy. The debt financing of farming is another issue which with Dairying is following the well worn 'Boom and Bust' model so beloved of New Zealand farming.

      At present we are utterly dependent upon Dairying as the largest sector with associated meat production. We must have a replacement in place BEFORE killing the messy but Golden Goose.

      These cycles have a life of their own which premature destruction – before any alternative is bedded in – simply drops the living standards by removing the ability to pay for imports

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      farms whose land costs shut out the paths youngsters had to buy their own farms

      This is one of the delusions of the old way that seems to persist.

      There isn't actually enough land for more and more youngsters to enter farming even if the prices were still as low as they were 40 years ago.

      To prevent the destruction from farming that you point out is happening we have to limit the amount of land that goes to farming. Exporting food is something that we need to stop.

  11. KJT 11

    @Maurice. 10.1. No one wants to "kill" dairying.

    That is ignorant federated farmers hyperbole.

    It should earn more than it costs, however.

    We are not reliant on export dairy for more than a fraction of our National income. Which also includes New Zealanders making or growing things within New Zealand for New Zealanders, by the way. A large part of the reason why we are still a first world country.

    Just as well because otherwise our “boom and bust” short sighted commodity exporters would have “killed” us, as they so nearly did in the mid eighties to early 90’s.

    Just as Tourism claimed to be "export earnings" the benefits of export farming are way overstated. Note that with the cessation of mass Tourism and despite all the gloom merchants like yourself, our balance of trade is the best it has been since the 60's.

  12. Maurice 12

    The largely rural and small town regions that were mostly dependent upon Tourism have been devastated with huge job losses … perhaps they should take heart from the Balance of Payments?

    How will we get income and jobs flowing back in to those areas?

    I see, for instance, that Omarama Hotels are closing as is the Gliding enterprise there – due to the lack of tourists – and NOTHING to replace the job losses.

    • Graeme 12.1

      The demise of the gliding operation in Omarama has nothing to do with covid. If they had operated in accordance with the same regulations as the rest of the adventure aviation industry they would still be in business. Just having the appropriate approvals for what they were doing would have been a start. Kind of like businesses who don't bother getting resource consents or ignore the conditions of their consents.

  13. KJT 13


    Makes you wonder about the "boom and bust" mentality that put all our eggs in the one unsustainable, low wage, environmentally destructive and costly overall, industry. Eh?

  14. KJT 14


    Meanwhile, in the real world in New Zealand, in Whangarei, young Māori kids, mums, and local people who have been finding it hard to get work for decades, who now have jobs in cafes, dairy farms, horticulture and engineering, as the supply from backpackers on a working holiday, student bums on seats education for residency scam, cheap labour from overseas and so called "skilled labour" on minimum wage, has dried up.

    Very soon those employers may have to actually pay wages, which will mean, for a change, some of those, "earnings" will support the local economy.

    • Maurice 14.1

      There is a jobless total of between 200,000 and 500,000 to soak up before any improvement in wages may occur.

      It will be "interesting" to see how the end of wage subsidies cuts in to this.

  15. KJT 15


    70 000 extra people a year and 300 000 on temporary work visa's of various types. Hopefully greatly reduced for a time.

    There's a large proportion of jobless, soaked up, already.

    • Maurice 15.1

      The FREFU has something interesting to say about employment and wages ….

      "Unemployment is expected to stick around for longer, as border restrictions remain in place and the world economy remains in turmoil for longer. It is expected to hit 7.7 per cent in 2021 and then stay above 7 per cent until 2023, when it drops to 6.6 per cent, then to 5.3 per cent the following year.

      • Treasury believes that over the three months between March and June, when the lockdowns were at the strongest, New Zealand’s economy shrunk by 16.3 per cent.
      • Very modest wage growth over the next four years is forecast. In the year to June 2021 wages will only go up by 0.9 per cent, followed by 2.5 per cent the following year, 2.6 per cent the year after, and 2.9 per cent in the year to June 2024."

      Seems that there will be a largish (by historical measures) group stubbornly out of work … depressing wage increases.

      "Neo-Libralism" still rules?

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