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No Right Turn: Ending dairy in Canterbury

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, September 3rd, 2019 - 146 comments
Categories: Environment, farming, water - Tags: , , , ,

Cross posted from No Right Turn

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Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch’s water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:

A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch’s drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and stop the nasties creeping below the Waimakariri River has some dairy farmers in states of high anxiety.

There are about 1.3 million dairy cattle in the region, a doubling from 2003 made largely possible by the expansion of irrigation schemes.

[…]

Some farmers consider the schedule of reductions beyond 2030 as a disincentive to keep going or encourage the next generation into the business.

Good. Nitrate kills children and increases long-term risks for bowel cancer. If it gets into Christchurch’s drinking water supply, it will be a public health catastrophe. And while farmers are following the climate change playbook and trying to pin the blame elsewhere (the canterbury foothills, mate), we simply didn’t have this problem before their cows started shitting everywhere during the dairy boom.

On climate change, on freshwater quality, and now on nitrate toxicity, the message is clear: if we want to survive, we need to massively cut back on dairy farming. Farmers simply need to find something else to do with their land. And if they’ve loaded up on debt to bail in to peak dairy on some of the hottest and dryest land in the country, they made a poor business decision, and they deserve to pay the price for that (Seriously: Canterbury is a terrible place to grow cows. The only stupider places are the Mackenzie Country and Hawke’s Bay, and anyone stupid enough to do that deserves to lose their money). As for what they can do instead, I hear trees are reliably profitable now. Or they can always move to a city and get a job in an industry that doesn’t rely on destroying the planet for private profit.
 

146 comments on “No Right Turn: Ending dairy in Canterbury ”

  1. millsy 1

    We really need to bring back sheep farming as the Canterbury staple.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    NRT is right to point out the potential future public health catastrophe that high nirate levels in groundwater and drinking water could cause. It is simply incredible the media gives so much space to whining farmers, yet has not really given any exposure the potential of Canterbury turning into our very own Flint, Michigan moment.

  3. Cinny 3

    In my opinion the Canterbury plains are better suited to horticulture than agriculture by a long shot. Bring back the wheat fields.

    • KJT 3.1

      Canterbury wheat went for stock feed. We always imported from Oz for human consumption.

      Better than imported palm kernel I think.

      • Cinny 3.1.1

        Crikey, thanks for that info.

        • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1

          The Canterbury plains as a light-woodland-with-glades, studded with hamlets, embellished with fish and eel-rich wetlands, all managed by Cantabrians harvesting food of all sorts from the varied landscape, providing food and materials for local artisans to fashion for use and export to other regions; the water would become clean, the bird-song, native and exotic, would ring-out, trees, native and exotic, would multiply, the awful Cantabrian winds would abate, and the angst the city of Christchurch is famous for, would dissipate like the morning dew with the rise of the sun.

          • alwyn 3.1.1.1.1

            My goodness Robert. You appear to have a view of Canterbury that is like a non-religious version of Blake's view of England.

            "And did those feet in ancient time
            Walk upon Englands mountains green:
            And was the holy Lamb of God,
            On Englands pleasant pastures seen!”

            etc etc for 3 more verses.

            Just replace England with Canterbury and we would have your vision.

            https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/54684/jerusalem-and-did-those-feet-in-ancient-time

            • AB 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Blake was a visionary radical who as a child saw angels in the trees at Peckham Rye and makes our Robert look like a plodding Alwynish conservative in comparison.

              "Enslaved the daughters of Albion weep…" Substitute ‘Aotearoa’ for ‘Albion’ and then you have the flavour of it.

              • Robert Guyton

                Blake's were doors of perception and mine merely a cat-flap?

                • Poission

                  You cant change the nor' wester (unless you move NZ latitude and level the southern alps)

                  Among the dreary mountains, far up above the gorge, There lives a potent demon, ever working at his forge; A worker at the winds is he, a flatulent old buffer, And he sends his manufactures down that man and beast may suffer.

                  I’ve witnessed all the winds that blow, from Land’s End to Barbadoes— Typhoons, pamperos, hurricanes eke terrible tornadoes. All these but gentle zephyrs are, which pleasantly go by ye To the howling, bellowing, horrid gusts which sweep down the Rakaia.

                  https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/LT18520508.2.19

                  • alwyn

                    Wow. The author of that poem really didn't like the weather did he(?)

                    I've never heard of the poem before today. Thank you for bringing it up.

                    • weka

                      there's a theme that runs through early NZ settler and post-settler culture that shows up in literature, which is a macho antipathy towards nature in their new land. All that fear and intense dislike of the wildness of the place.

                    • greywarshark

                      weka I know that feeling of antipathy to the weather – when I have been struggling up a Wellington hill with the wind and rain blowing in my face. I can imagine and have sympathy for how the early people would have felt at times.

                    • KJT

                      If they tried to live in Wellington, it is perfectly understandable.

                      I wonder if the Neo-liberal meanness of our politicians would have reduced, if we let them live somewhere more pleasant.

                  • greywarshark

                    Thanks Poission for finding that descriptive and historic poem in the archives. A 'Nugget of gold’, also from the archives that you will have heard.

                • weka

                  “Blake’s were doors of perception and mine merely a cat-flap?”

                  roflnui.

                • Blake's were doors of perception and mine merely a cat-flap?

                  Perhaps for a very generously-proportioned cat?

                  • Robert Guyton

                    "Perhaps for a very generously-proportioned cat?"

                    Fat-cat councillor, eh!

                    Going straight for the jugular! Love it!

                • (something else re blake:..)

                  'A vegetarian from his teenage years, Shelley's pamphlet On the Vegetable System of Diet (1813)-

                  – equated rearing livestock and eating meat with man's murderous urge to war and dominion'

                  (can't argue with that..)

                  • (correction: shelley yes – blake not so much..)

                    ' Blake maintained temperate appetites, eating cold mutton and drinking pints of porter from the local pub.'

                  • The Al1en

                    Well you can, but clearly not to resolve conflict with a pious religious zealot, unless you want to sustain a perverse pleasure of mocking the afflicted.

            • Robert Guyton 3.1.1.1.1.2

              That's right, Alwyn, I do, only overlaid with native plants and other living things, populated by native humans and others as well. Not so much of the pastures though.

          • weka 3.1.1.1.2

            I can see that Robert.

      • greywarshark 3.1.2

        I seem to remember that the grain we grew was not as fine for baking bread as the Australian type. But we did have one that is still grown here and available starting with K. I'll look it up on google.

        EFFECTS OF SOWING RATE AND NITROGEN FERTILIZER ON TILLERING OF "KARAMU" AND "KOPARA" WHEATS https://www.agronomysociety.org.nz/files/1977_17._Tillering_Karamu_and_Kopara_wheats.pdf

        1976 Journal of Agricultural Research 1976: info on google keywords – nz wheat type Karamu?:

        1982 Quality in the New Zealand wheat and flour … – [email protected]
        https://researcharchive.lincoln.ac.nz › bitstream › handle › aeru_dp_65
        by MM Rich – ‎1982 – ‎Cited by 1 – ‎Related articles
        quality supplies of N.Z. grown wheat and flour, in order to suggest … the qualities of Karamu wheat. A further ….. inclusive) or is made from the Karamu variety.

        More info on wheat.
        https://www.bakeinfo.co.nz/Facts/Wheat-Milling/Wheat/NZ-Wheats

        .
        Looking at records of crop yields – NZ beats world.

        For barley – https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/cropping/68146316/ World barley yield record set by Timaru farmers 2015

        For wheat – https://www.cropscience.bayer.co.nz/articles/record-breaking-wheat-crop | New Zealand farming couple grow record breaking wheat crop 2017
        …Eric puts his success down to his partnership with Bayer and Yara. Bayer, for its agronomy advice and range of crop protection herbicides and fungicides; and Yara, for its soil nutrition input….

        “In particular, the Canterbury region is demonstrating that it not only has the best arable growing conditions in the world, but also the best and most knowledgeable arable farmers in the world.

        The Watsons are using a fair amount of irrigation to get that harvest!
        (Ashburton cropping farmers Eric and Maxine Watson (Rangitata Holdings) were the South Island’s original Precision VRI pioneers, now with seven irrigators fitted with Precision VRI. – https://zimmaticanz.com/case-studies/eric-watson)

        .
        They have been leaders in irrigation technology apparently. So what was originally achieved on the Canterbury Plains without large water drawn off and advanced technology as referred to below?

        https://www.waterforce.co.nz/eric-watson-a-waterforce-telemetry-and-system-monitoring-solution
        Case Studies – Eric Watson – A WaterForce telemetry and system monitoring solution

        Eric Watson - A WaterForce telemetry and system monitoring solution

        Telemetry and monitoring in action

        Eric Watson is a leading farm innovator in the Mid-Canterbury region, having been recognised, along with his wife Maxine, as the Lincoln University/Rabobank farmer of the year for 2006. Eric has installed some of the first linear move irrigators in the country, as well as one of the first installations of Variable Rate Irrigation, a product which is being offered by leading irrigation companies, including WaterForce on Valley irrigators.

        Determining the effectiveness of these technologies, both in terms of water saved and cost-effectiveness required accurate monitoring of flow rates, water usage and soil conditions on Eric’s property. This required some innovative solutions to metering challenges, including mounting travelling flow meters and the use of a blend of cellular and radio technology.

        Just to remind us of what and how we are today.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_New_Zealand
        For the year ended March 2002, agricultural exports were valued at over $14.8 billion. New Zealand is unique in being the only developed country to be totally exposed to the international markets since subsidies, tax concessions and price supports for the agricultural sector were removed in the 1980s.[2] However, as of 2017, the New Zealand Government still provides state investment in infrastructure which supports agriculture.[3]

        Pastoral farming is the major land use but there are increases in land area devoted to horticulture.

        New Zealand is a member of the Cairns Group, which is seeking to have free trade in agricultural goods.[4]

        • KJT 3.1.2.1

          I love how the idea that subsidies were withdrawn from farming in the 80's, keeps getting repeated. Repeat a lie often, enough, Eh.

          It is absolute bull.

          • greywarshark 3.1.2.1.1

            KJT

            Sounds like that bull is sterile! I thought it was true that subsidies had been withdrawn. I remember that skit, was it Fred Dagg's, where a farmer took a polly round his farm with sheep dotted all over the hills which were being subsidised, the sheep i mean but I guess also the farm. Only they were stones painted white. I thought that was just bull, or ramnuts, if you will!

            • KJT 3.1.2.1.1.1

              No. Farming in New Zealand is still subsidized, by billions in tax payers dollars, tax rebates to farmers, including the lack of CGT, and other parts of the economy we have sacrificed for farming.

              The names of the subsidies were changed, to satisfy free trade agreement requirements, but the amounts that the rest of us pay to help farmers has, as far as I can see, increased.

            • KJT 3.1.2.1.1.2

              No. Farming in New Zealand is still subsidized, by billions in tax payers dollars, tax rebates to farmers, including the lack of CGT, and other parts of the economy we have sacrificed for farming.

              The names of the subsidies were changed, to satisfy free trade agreement requirements, but the amounts that the rest of us pay to help farmers has, as far as I can see, increased.

            • KJT 3.1.2.1.1.3

              It is not like they pay much tax for it, either.

              https://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/53495/dairy-farmers-pay-lower-tax-couple-pension-ird-says-fonterra-gets-tax-credits-fair

              When I put that up a while ago a farmer said that was a bad year. I said fair enough we will look at a good year then. The average per farm owner was still less than $2000.
              Less tax than a beneficiary, pays.

      • patricia 3.1.3

        Our baker son confirmed that many years ago. Our wheat made a wet heavy dough.

        Australian wheat was far superior.

        Now Australia is short of water, in drought in these important food areas.

  4. KJT 4

    New Zealand has been subsidizing farmers poor business decisions since the country began.

    If you borrowed to buy any other business for unsustainable multiplies of earnings in the expectation of a tax free gain on sale, and it failed, or failed to insure against entirely predictable events such as rain, expecting others to pay, we would all say, "tough".

    Farming is such a sacred cow, sic, that is not going to end anytime soon.

    After all National sacked Environment Canterbury to ensure dairy farming could proceed on totally unsuitable land.

    It won't be Canterbury dairy farmers who pay, when the water table is poisoned, the soil blown away and all the river and nearby sea life is dead.

    Not to mention the losses to more sustainable farms, when the market for dairy is flooded with subsidized milk.

  5. mike 5

    Reserve Bank governor in TV interview talked about aggressive lending policies by banks in the last ten years. i.e. pushing farmers to borrow more. Turns out the figures show that 80% of the loans are to 15% of farmers. In other words ordinary farming families have not taken up the loans. Who has. That's right, Queen Street lawyers and million dollar accounting firms in Dunedin. These super wealthy and influential 'farmers' are leading the attacks against reasonable calls to save our water quality by halting expansion of factory dairy farming. Like all cowards, they hide behind the skirts of mr and mrs farmer, family farm, and farm futures rubbish. Corporate extremists are the bane of our existence. Put the brakes on their greed, political influence and ability to pay for headlines that suit them.

    • weka 5.1

      Wow, that's a great synopsis, thanks. Do you remember where/when the interview was?

    • Morris 5.2

      This begs another question: where does the money for these loans come from? Not China by any chance?

      • greywarshark 5.2.1

        From banks and financiers who have scooped up all the cash they can and are looking to turn gold into straw! That is money being a medium of exchange/barter must keep its value or buy something physical that has value. There is plenty of that type of money sloshing about operating in a different strata to the one available to the ordinary Jo.

      • Hanswurst 5.2.2

        It does invite the question as to where the money comes from. It doesn't invite immediate speculation (based on three tenths of f*** all) that it might be China, like some knee-jerk, racist bigot.

        • Morris 5.2.2.1

          Wow touched a nerve there.

          So the China Construction Bank doesn't have big mortgages over a lot of the Canterbury Plains? Looks like it does, keeping China supplied with milk powder.

      • Robert Guyton 5.2.3

        Out of thin air?

    • WeTheBleeple 5.3

      Well said Mike.

  6. mauī 6

    Agree, time for the nitrate to be sent… Preferably back into the cow.

  7. esoteric pineapples 7

    Canterbury can grow more milling wheat for flour for bread so New Zealand is self-sufficient instead of importing three quarters from drought stricken Australia

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=12233017

    • weka 7.1

      True and we should really be looking at resiliency and food security re climate change.

      Canterbury is drought prone now though. I think we need to first be thinking about mass tree planting to protect the aquifers, make the local climate more favourable, reduce the impact from drought, increase biodiversity.

      Lots of ways to grow food and other resources that way, and we can grow grains too, but the crops need to be integrated into other systems or we will just be buying a new set of problems down the road.

    • greywarshark 7.2

      esoteric Have done a piece on wheat at 3.1.2 that goes into aspects of it here in NZ with references for anyone who thinks of taking that further when the profit has been squeezed out of dairy, and the teats run dry, maybe.

      But I noted the entries relating to the irrigation of wheat crops; as weka mentions it is a dry area. That allows for ripening of wheat, but also sets a cautionary note about not expanding it at the expense of integrating with growing other crops in ways that are water conserving.

  8. Ad 8

    To really put some force into regulating the machine that actually drives this unending thirst for dairy production, send in a submission in about the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill.

    Supposedly this intends to promote a more efficient dairy market within in New Zealand.

    Proposed amendments to the Act seek to do the following:
    • provide Fonterra (as the dominant market player) with more flexibility to manage some aspects of its operations
    • support and encourage better environmental performance of the dairy industry
    • provide increased clarity on aspects of the regulatory regime for Fonterra and other dairy industry stakeholders
    • remove some regulatory requirements that are no longer necessary

    Those who wish to be heard will go before the Primary Production Committee. That's all parties on that one, so that's where the political contest is for the bill.

    I'm sure local government in Canterbury has its uses, but it's even more awkward and long-term in its controls than the Fresh Water Policy Statement the government put out last month.

    The legislative proposals as they stand are pretty damn weak.

    Get in there people and put some welly about.

  9. bwaghorn 9

    ""And if they’ve loaded up on debt to bail in to peak dairy on some of the hottest and dryest land in the country,""

    So what? They did it legally and fully supported be government.

    Your argument is no better than the right wing argument of people who have kids they cant afford should make better life choices.

    If you whining greenies want real lasting change gtfu, get round the table ,show real leadership and take the farmers with you on the journey.

    • gsays 9.1

      " …get round the table ,show real leadership and take the farmers with you on the journey. " I agree with that. The key is that the farmers are aware and keen for the journey to occur.

      Perhaps the state can put it's money where it's mouth is ie subsidies, grants, tax relief for the changes needed.

      Perhaps grain (craft beer explosion here and overseas), hemp, cannabis, wheat….

      • solkta 9.1.1

        Yes and cigarette companies should be paid compo also.

        • gsays 9.1.1.1

          How is that relevant?

          • solkta 9.1.1.1.1

            It is another industry that causes a lot of harm where regulations have been introduced that have cost the companies involved a lot of money.

            • gsays 9.1.1.1.1.1

              Where as the dairy farmers are citizens and businesses that were actively encouraged to farm in Canterbury by the state.

              Dairy farmers are not foreign multi nationals, peddling nicotine. They are our neighbours, friends and colleagues.

              To compare them with tobacco companies is taking othering to an extreme.

        • greywarshark 9.1.1.2

          solkta You're sounding mean again. Do the attacks come on at random, or when you have eaten something the doctor advised against?

          • The Al1en 9.1.1.2.1

            What's the point of that post if it's not an attack of your own?

            Come on, don't be that whiny [deleted] people eye roll and skim over. 🙄

      • Sacha 9.1.2

        Perhaps the state can put it's money where it's mouth is ie subsidies, grants, tax relief for the changes needed.

        Does letting them spread the cost over a couple of decades already count?

        • gsays 9.1.2.1

          "Does letting them spread the cost over a couple of decades already count? "

          I am not sure what you mean.

          Are you are talking about the 'externalities' of farming eg repair of damaged roads, use of water from the commons etc?

    • weka 9.2

      I gather that's what Shaw is doing but honestly, the power vested in people who want to keep fucking the environment is substantial. Farmers (some of them) can attack greenies but the tide has turned and there will be little sympathy for the farmers/businessmen that tried to stop that, trading water safety/quality for money.

      If the argument here is that the govt backed this and it was legal, what's the problem with ECan leading on this and protecting the environment legally?

      • bwaghorn 9.2.1

        Shaw maybe on the right track but headlines like "ending dairy in Canterbury " are fucking unhelpful.

        You lefties lump all farmers together and I'm picking most dairy cockies cant distinguish between sensible lefties and raving activists.

        • weka 9.2.1.1

          "You lefties lump all farmers together"

          Did you intend that to be ironical?

          I/S is not known for mincing his words, but I quite regularly differentiate between the different kind of farmers. So there's an example of lefties thinking differently.

        • KJT 9.2.1.2

          Had an friendly discussion with a cocky on Facebook, yesterday.

          Actually he was pretty pissed with federated farmers claim, that their business model depends on being able to pollute for free. Giving farmers a bad name.

          A bit worried about compliance costs, if he has to fence off streams further away than he has already. His comment was the corporate farmers have the power and money to avoid compliance costs. Vocational farmers don't.

          I said myself, as one of those "Greenies" I am fine with helping farmers like him, being assisted to more sustainable farming.

    • So what? They did it legally and fully supported be government.

      Yep. Never vote Tory, kids!

      • bwaghorn 9.3.1

        I seem to remember they started pulling the pines out for dairy north of taupo in the Clark years but yip alot of Canterburys problems can be laid at nationals feet.

    • Gabby 9.4

      You gettin morality and legality all confuzzled up in yer wee noggin there waggles?

      • bwaghorn 9.4.1

        That's why ya need good law makers . Most people have less morals than an ally cat.

        • vto 9.4.1.1

          National were not good law-makers when they made the law to stop elections in Canterbury. So they could steal the water.

          That was not good law. That was shit law. And is why this issue continues…

          Bad law – bad result

          Eh mr wags

          • bwaghorn 9.4.1.1.1

            What happened to ecan wen the Nats got in is a blot on nzs political history. They have no shame the scum .

  10. Wayne 10

    In practical terms, how would this actually be done. In other democratic societies farmers have to be paid to withdraw land from production, basically the opportunity cost of doing so. Otherwise the state doesn’t get the consent and cooperation of the farmers. And that is necessary unless you want a full scale civil disobedience campaign, as regularly occurs in France. When the date severely interferes with people’s livelihoods (beyond the normal range of regulation) there is apt to be a large scale reaction. The Left surely knows all about that.

    Such a compensation scheme would be the sort of the opposite of the SMP regime of the 1970’s when farmers were paid to increase sheep numbers.

    If society wants a particular part of society to provide a widespread community benefit, then society as a whole has to pay the particular sector fo that.

    Though I do wonder if there are other alternatives than such an overt interference in property rights. For instance, would 3 to 5 meter (as opposed to the current 1 meter) buffers from water course make a difference? Would partial housing of cows make a difference?

    • solkta 10.1

      widespread community benefit

      They are causing widespread community harm. Only a nat could twist that like you just did.

    • weka 10.2

      In practical terms, how would this actually be done. In other democratic societies farmers have to be paid to withdraw land from production, basically the opportunity cost of doing so.

      Who said anything about withdrawing land from production? If farmers don't know how to transition off dairying, they can get better advice or they can sell up, just like any other business that is failing. Plenty of people in NZ that what to farm sustainably.

      Otherwise the state doesn’t get the consent and cooperation of the farmers. And that is necessary unless you want a full scale civil disobedience campaign, as regularly occurs in France. When the date severely interferes with people’s livelihoods (beyond the normal range of regulation) there is apt to be a large scale reaction. The Left surely knows all about that.

      Really? Because the state has regularly fucked the lives of low income people for a long time and I don't recall that big an outcry. What you appear to be suggesting is backmail.

      Such a compensation scheme would be the sort of the opposite of the SMP regime of the 1970’s when farmers were paid to increase sheep numbers.

      I've long argued that the govt should subsidise farmers to convert to sustainable landcare. Needs to be actually sustainable though, not the faux sustainability that Fed Farmers is edging towards. My patience is rapidly running out for farmers who believe they have a god or state given right to pollute, so there's a limit to how much subsidising should go on. I don't think we should be bailing out poor financial decisions eg anyone converting to dairying from now on.

      If society wants a particular part of society to provide a widespread community benefit, then society as a whole has to pay the particular sector fo that.

      I'd quite happily take a drop in my standard of living to have drinkable rivers again. I don't think it would take a huge drop.

      Though I do wonder if there are other alternatives than such an overt interference in property rights.

      Lol. No-one is interfering with their property rights. They don't own the commons, we do.

      For instance, would 3 to 5 meter (as opposed to the current 1 meter) buffers from water course make a difference? Would partial housing of cows make a difference?

      Yeah, nah. We were talking about this stuff a decade ago and Fed Farmers said no, because it would reduce stock numbers. We're past that point now. Had they done something sensible back then the redress now wouldn't have to be so extreme. I hold regional councils also responsible for that, and in the case of Ecan, that is clearly traceable back to the National Party.

      • Wayne 10.2.1

        Weka,

        "What you are suggesting is blackmail." It is the nature of democratic societies to try and avoid wide scale civil disobedience. Because the state/government knows if it forcibly interferes with property rights in a serious way without compensation, there will be a reaction from those affected. Which is why it doesn't occur in democratic societies.

        The state forcing farmers to abandon existing dairy farming is about as large an interference in property rights as one could imagine in a society like New Zealand. You saying that it is not so won't convince anyone, especially those directly affected.

        However, it seems you basically agree with me about subsidies if land is removed from production (or compulsorily required to be used for a lower value use). As you well know it is the way it is done in the EU and in the US, with such subsidies now being a significant part of farming economy. Contrasted to the Soviet Union shooting the kulaks!

        • solkta 10.2.1.1

          Polluting the environment is not a property right. Farmers can keep doing what they do if they can stop the piss from leaving their property.

        • Sacha 10.2.1.2

          If farmers still have their land, how is protecting the public from pollution interfering with property rights?

          There is no 'right' to pollute. Find another source of value from the land that meets society's needs as well as the bank's.

          Wonder if the Canterbury plains are suitable for producing the feedstock for plant-based proteins?

          Ah, snap.

          • weka 10.2.1.2.1

            what happens on the Canterbury Plains should take its direction from the geography and the climate, with reference to increasing drought cycles and big weather events (gale force wind would be my pick as an issue). Large scale industrial monocropping might be somewhat less polluting, but it's not resilient. Also not sustainable where it relies on industrial irrigation.

        • Psycho Milt 10.2.1.3

          The state forcing farmers to abandon existing dairy farming is about as large an interference in property rights as one could imagine in a society like New Zealand.

          That's certainly how some farmers would interpret the government forcing them to stop polluting people's drinking water, yes. It's a very disingenuous and self-serving interpretation, which would be unlikely to garner much popular sympathy – everybody drinks water, after all.

          • Wayne 10.2.1.3.1

            You are all seriously underestimating the amount of wrath that would be caused by the government forcibly stopping farmers from dairying. The anger you would see in the provinces would be immense. The "fart tax" protests of the early 2000's would be trivial in comparison. You can't just destroy hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars per farmer in a highly targeted way (billions across the whole sector) and think that could be done easily.

            How would it would be enforced? Do you think the farmers would meekly see all/most of their cows taken from them? Would it mean hundreds of police entering farms and removing cows and destroying farm buildings? Prosecutions up and down the country? Farmers being jailed when they don't comply?

            I personally don't think any New Zealand government would be so stupid as to try such an approach. Not even a Green dominated government.

            If you are serious about this, the only practical way is a compensation/subsidy package that will pay farmers to reduce the stocking rate. Just as the EU and the US do. As an example it is why there is a compensation package for the semi auto guns. Governments in New Zealand know they just can’t expropriate without compensation.

            • weka 10.2.1.3.1.1

              it's a 60 year plan, with a decade for the first stage. Why can farmers not transition off industrial dairying in that time?

              As for force, it's Ecan, and they already have the power to set regulations. Whether they would have the balls to enforce compliance is another matter, given how poorly regional councils have been doing this historically. But I can't see how it's not possible. One farm at a time just like they do now.

              • Andre

                A possible dairy farming response would be to transition to the style of industrial dairying overseas: keep the cows indoors, grow vegetable matter on the land, then harvest it and feed it to the cows. In some german operations, all the shit and piss is collected into biodigesters to produce biogas, before what's left gets sprayed back out as fertiliser.

                • weka

                  Industrial dairying, as a model, is inherently unsustainable and a problem for GHG emissions. Why not just transition to long term, sustainable and resilient farming?

                  Cows indoors is factory farming and an animal welfare fail imo.

                  • Wayne

                    Weka,

                    I think we are likely to see more housing of cows. Probably not in the way it is done in Germany, that is all the time, but for a significant proportion, especially when the land is water soaked from rain. I understand some farmers are already doing this.

                    It does reduce the problems of pollution, and soil damage. So putting aside my point about farmer protests and expropriation, it may be a way for farmers to modify existing practises and improve water quality without reducing production.

                    On bad weather days it may be better for the animals than the current practise of leaving animals out on cold wet days. Many European visitors are pretty unimpressed with the way New Zealand farmers leave animals outside in all sorts of bad weather. And in my experience, the animals in Holland and Denmark did seem to be in better condition than cows in New Zealand. They are outside a fair proportion of the time. I guess the animal welfare issues are also dependent on the quality of the sheds.

            • Stuart Munro. 10.2.1.3.1.2

              The industrial farmers are big on wrath. And poo, they make a lot of poo too. And like blackmailers you want to give them compensation to stop poisoning the aquifers. It's a good job no-one ever sent a muppet like you to get us trade deals – you'd give away the farm. Oh, wait…

            • vto 10.2.1.3.1.3

              i know how you feel wayne it would be like having someone shit in your drinking water

              • Poission

                Well he is drinking the water ex waikato river.

                Fitzsimons says it would be expensive to have two different reticulation systems around Auckland and it also poses the risk of "getting them mixed up".

                There are a number of large industries in South Auckland which use large quantities of water for non-food related uses, she says, and a separate pipe to them could be justified much more easily.

                Last month Fitzsimons went further saying "the Waikato Pipeline must be put on hold until the Ministry of Health can give quality advice to Watercare Services about gender bender hormones in drinking water".

                https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=1793136

            • Psycho Milt 10.2.1.3.1.4

              You are all seriously underestimating the amount of wrath that would be caused by the government forcibly stopping farmers from dairying.

              Au contraire. I can only assume that Shakespeare wrote "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" because he never saw the far more impressive example of hell having no fury like a New Zealand farmer not getting his own way.

              The government would not be forcibly stopping farmers from dairying, it would be stopping them from poisoning people's drinking water. They'd still be free to run dairy farms, as long as that patently reasonable and unremarkable condition was met. The ones who couldn't meet that condition would have to sell up or transition out of dairying, and yes hell would have no fury etc, but the idea that we should put up with polluted drinking water because otherwise dairy farmers will be angry is just ridiculous – who apart from farmers would vote for a government with that as its policy? (NB: rhetorical question – obviously, upwards of 40% of the NZ population will vote for a party with that as its policy).

            • KJT 10.2.1.3.1.5

              I think we will be using subsidies to change to sustainable farming.

              Because farming is such a sacred cow, so to speak.

              No one gave a shit about the thousands of extra costs on businesses such as building and manufacturing, because of changes to safety and pollution requirements.

              But farming thinks they are, "special".

        • weka 10.2.1.4

          Wayne, I'm not seeing the state intending to force farmers off their land, so your premise founders there. I also don't see why the land needs to be removed from production, but then my understanding of production is probably broader than yours.

          Re blackmail, as far as I can tell the issue here is the right to farm however they want. No-one in NZ has property rights like that.

        • KJT 10.2.1.5

          Just transition is a Green party policy. Any one sector, or bunch of workers are not expected to bear the whole cost of change.

          There is evidence that in many cases destocking,reducing the dependency on imported feed and fertilizer along with improved farming practices, can even improve farming lifestyles and incomes.

    • Robert Guyton 10.3

      "Though I do wonder if there are other alternatives than such an overt interference in property rights."

      How, Wayne, is requiring metres of buffer not interfering with property rights?

    • patricia 10.4

      Wayne, Government offered Kiwi fruit growers money to pull their crops to grow something else, so I agree this is one suitable solution to lowering stock numbers.

    • vto 10.5

      Wayne, your various posts above are rejected entirely, and I am disappointed at the twist you have put on the issue. It is dishonest Wayne.

      In the early 90's the Canterbury farmers were told that if dairy is intensified then waterways will be degraded and drinking water will be polluted. Then YOU LOT fucking ignored that, and intensified dairy (by sacking Ecan, thieves). Now waterways are degraded and drinking water is polluted. Wankers.

      Bring on civil disobedience Wayne, go on. Watch the backlash against farmers to an even greater extent.

      YOU LOT SHAT IN OUR DRINKING WATER – INTENTIONALLY…

      Keep your shit on your own property and stop dumping it in the public estate.

      "Farmer's wrath"… pfftt… you have no idea the wrath bubbling away inside Canterbury home's about this… it is discussed, and resented, far more often than you know… have a go Wayne, have a go

      Dairy can fuck off out of Canterbury – it doesn't deserve to stay

      • weka 10.5.1

        Righteous. I think Wayne underestimates the sentiment of so many people about rivers and lakes. Farmers might rebel, but I think they will lose sympathy fast. Could get nasty though and I agree with what some farmers are saying about the stress. Not an excuse but a suggestion that we still have some choices here about how this goes down.

        Wayne looks like his job here is to sow seeds on the left that farmers should now be paid out to stop them polluting. Lead balloon.

  11. Ian 11

    As with the boy who called wolf,liars are not beleivable. Where are the dead children? Canterbury has a vast range of dairy farming systems.The vast majority of dairy farms in Canterbury are family owned and operated.TheAvon is the most polluted river in Canterbury. The selwyn river is flowing swift and clean at state highway 1.Managed aquifer recharge is lowering nitrate levels and raising watertables.Frogs ,longfin eels,native mussels abound on many Canterbury dairyfarms. Whinging greenies giving the vast majority the shits.

    • weka 11.1

      I wonder if you can back any of that up?

      Tell us how long it takes for nitrates to get from the top of the pasture to the water table, across 3 different land types on the Plains?

      • Ian 11.1.1

        I don't need to back it up because I speak the truth.So many lies are being told about dairying in Canterbury the rabid mob is starting to beleive it's own bullshit.

        • Robert Guyton 11.1.1.1

          Astonishingly, I support Ian's challenge, "Where are the dead children?"

          Serious discussions should have integrity, through and through.

    • Where are the dead children?

      Your starting point for considering whether or not to stop polluting Canterbury's drinking water is "Have any children died?" Reminds me of "A modest proposal." Have you considered standing for election to ECAN? The country needs public-spirited men like yourself to ensure the protection of the environment.

    • Morris 11.3

      Canterbury has one of the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world. Can you explain how this is NOT linked to high nitrate levels?

      • phillip ure 11.3.1

        red/processed meat is cited as a leading cause of bowel cancer..

        so big red/processed meat eaters in canturbury are giving themselves a double-whammy..

        • Stuart Munro. 11.3.1.1

          Time was NZ was number one in skin cancer, and left the bowels for Asia, so meat wasn't really the problem, unless it's meat and contemporary lifestyle. My medical mates there pointed the finger at helicobacter pylori, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6322532/ and a traditional food culture that saw many spoons going into the same pot.

          • weka 11.3.1.1.1

            If red meat was the leading cause of cancer we'd see high rates in traditional meat diet cultures. But we don't.

            That H pylori theory is interesting. Looking at another chronic health issue arising from poor gut health. Eat more ferments, less refined foods.

            • Stuart Munro. 11.3.1.1.1.1

              “To ferment your own food is to lodge a small but eloquent protest – on behalf of the senses and the microbes – against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we remain passive consumers of its standardized commodities, rather than creators of idiosyncratic products expressive of ourselves and of the places where we live, because your pale ale or sourdough bread or kimchi is going to taste nothing like mine or anyone else's.” ~ Michael Pollan Cooked

              • Robert Guyton

                Michael Pollan: good stuff!

                • Stuart Munro.

                  There are a few things we understand about the revolution:

                  It will not be televised

                  A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having

                  And (I think) it must be celebrated with whole pig barbeques, lactofermented pickles, gathered seafood, and tart home brewed cider, perry, or the like.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    I'll bring kimchi, gin-soaked sloes, slack-ma-girdle cider and a zither; let's revolve!

            • The Al1en 11.3.1.1.1.2

              Wine and cider being my favoured choices

          • phillip ure 11.3.1.1.2

            @ munro..

            do you have the medical knowledge/expertise to refute the oft-repeated warnings from those that have that medical knowledge/expertise to issue the warnings that bacon/processed-meat (esp.) cause bowel cancer..?

            or is this just something you 'feel'..?

            • Stuart Munro. 11.3.1.1.2.1

              It's more of an observation – historically NZ was a very high meat eating country, but not a bowel cancer stand out. Of course you may well argue that folk were dying of cardio vascular problems before the bowel cancer had a chance to exhibit.

              • oh..!..it's more of 'an observation'..eh..?..(a.k.a. – an orifice-pluck..?)

                guess/best we should treat it as such – and return to what those with the requisite medical-expertise say..

                eh..?

                'cos when they issue those red-meat/bacon/processed-meat = bowel-cancer warnings – unlike you – they probably aren't just orifice-plucking..

                eh..?

                • so….animal-based bacon = bowel-cancer..

                  whereas plant-based 'bacon' looks/tastes/smells/chews the same as the animal one…but doesn't cause bowel-cancer..

                  will you really still insist on yr rights – (to give yrslf bowel-cancer..?..)

                  • The Al1en

                    And you know what it tastes, looks, smells and chews like, even though you've not eaten it.

                    That seems like reliable opinion lol

                    • do try to keep up with this subject allen..

                      (so you know they ran tasting tests @ hamilton fielddays abt a yr ago..?

                      where plant-based steak vs animal-based steak were both cooked up by a chef..

                      then offered to passing farmers to taste/compare..

                      they couldn't tell the difference between the two – none of them doubting it was 'meat' – and some preferring the plant-based..

                      so..can we take the tastes etc the same as a given..?

                      which brings me back to my original question..

                      will you really still insist on the side-dish – of possible bowel-cancer..?

                      with yr bacon..?

                      (not to mention the enviro-damage – and the animal-suffering..eh..?..(‘cos we don’t talk about that do we..?..esp. the animal suffering..

                      ir’s all really about what you (and others )like to eat..eh..?

                      nothing else really matters..eh..?

                    • The Al1en

                      Again, someone who doesn't eat the product, who relies on anecdotal evidence for their sermon, isn't really qualified to make sweeping statements.

                      As for the animal, I eat them, they are food. Your spin, the cow concentration camps as you've called it, doesn't bother me in the slightest. We've done the suffering argument just recently, so no need to play that game on repeat, as much as you have to try.

                      I do enjoy a bacon sandwich, but as I only eat the good stuff which is expensive, it's a treat more tHan a staple. The cancer risk is not really a worry to me, certainly not as much as it should be to a long term weed smoker for example.

                • Stuart Munro.

                  It's a funny thing but observation is not overruled by opinion, however authoritative.

                  As for health warnings – there's not much they haven't warned about, or worse, called safe and had to retract, somewhere along the line – that's the beauty of empiricism.

                  • oh..ok..so you just go with yr 'feelings' on such matters..

                    and what i have cited to you re bacon = bowel-cancer isn't an 'opinion' of mine – as such..eh..?

                    i am not saying it..

                    i am just reporting what those with the requisite medical-expertise are saying – as a fact..

                    try not to confuse the two..

                    and will you answer that question:

                    if it looks/tastes/smells/chews the same – will you still insist on those three side-dishes of enviro-impact/animal-suffering/poss. bowel-cancer..

                    with yr 'bacon'..?

                    (we are getting close to the nub of this matter – i feel..

                    this is what it boils down to..)

    • mauī 11.4

      Ah the crystal clear waters of the Selwyn just happen to empty into one of the most polluted lakes in the countries…. what awfully "bad luck" for such a clean river… cool

      …is only one of the measures needed to clean up Lake Ellesmere, which is described as the second most polluted lake in the country.

      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/65159/change-to-conservation-order-for-lake-ellesmere

    • Gabby 11.5

      They're in the cold hard ground Enny, unless they were cremated.

  12. would it be really radical to suggest these dairy farms be converted to growing vegetables etc..?

    • The Al1en 12.1

      Not radical, but still a bit stupid to suggest land like Canterbury, with regards to water use and nitrate leeching, unsuitable for dairy could be replaced by vegetable growing. Best leave the unsuitable areas and farm the best bits.

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/108956057/replacing-cows-with-vegetables-actually-wouldnt-be-better-for-our-waterways-at-all

      Many people will be surprised to know that market gardening leaches three times more nitrogen than dairy farming.

      There are plenty of papers out there showing leaching of over 170 kg N/ha/yr for various vegetable crops.

      How can it be, that vegetables leach more than dairy cows?

      Market gardeners apply quite high rates of nitrogen fertiliser to each crop.

      Vegetables are generally fast-growing crops. That means they harvest multiple crops and therefore they are cultivating their paddocks multiple times every year.

      Cultivation increases N leaching.

      • Robert Guyton 12.1.1

        Canterbury is not dairy or vegetable country, both being monocultures.

        Canterbury would be Eden, if planted as a woodland; mixed cropping; that's the future.

        There can be animals in there too; if the stock-people get their scat together!

        • The Al1en 12.1.1.1

          Yep, I was going to edit my post to say 'leave it to the forests and fit in around it’

        • weka 12.1.1.2

          So much potential! I bet there's all sorts of people on the Plains already doing lots of interesting things in that geography and climate.

        • Ian 12.1.1.3

          .Why do you feed the urban taliban with lies about dairyfarming.Whydo you call dairying a monoculture .A Canterbury woodland and a 1975 norwester .You are mad.

          • Robert Guyton 12.1.1.3.1

            "urban Taliban"

            Who, exactly, is mad?

            • Ian 12.1.1.3.1.1

              Robert. You cherry pick the argument. You deliberately distort the truth when you descibe Canterbury dairy farming as a monoculture. You Know full well that woodlands on the Canterbury plains have a a major threat of windblow and because you seem to have a guru status among many urbanites they all get sucked in by your pseudo academic dribble. Try and be honest and stick to the truth. You may even get re elected

              • weka

                How many animal species are there on a dairy farm?

                • Incognito

                  Two

                • Ian

                  We have humans,bovines,chickens,dogs,cats,stoats,wild pigs,wild deer,hares,rabbits,other birds including Quail,pheasant,paradise duck,shoveller duck,teal,blue heron,native oyster catcher,spur wing plover,yellow hammers waxeyes,fantails,bellbirds,pukekos,thrushes,blackbirds,,magpies,pigeons,rats,mice,possums

                  Then there is all the invertabrets including many native species including grass grub and porina and of course our native skinks that are thriving along the shelter belts that we don't get carbon credits for some obscure reason.

                  Then we have the frogs and the long finnedeels and the native freshwater mussels and of course the mudfish and the giant kokopu. ALL thriving on Canterbury dairyfarms.

                  The list goes on and on.

                  • weka

                    Not your typical dairy farm then. What's in the paddock that the cows are in?

                    • Ian

                      Rotational grazing is something we are good at. The cows get to meet everyone over time. I often wonder what they think of the tourists shitting in the shelter belt alongside the main road.

                    • weka

                      Lol.

                      How many cows do you have Ian?

                      Having all those species makes you different from many dairy farms. The ones I am familiar with are still cutting down trees and fitting as many cows on as possible. I have sympathy for anyone that feels the stress of public opprobrium. I think the problem farmers have just gone on too long and people feel powerless to stop it. I can't stand that the rivers I love are polluted or that we are still cutting down trees to put in industrial irrigation. It's just wrong, and unnecessary, there are other ways to farm.

                  • marty mars

                    "ALL thriving on Canterbury dairyfarms."

                    lol except when the shit is hosed into the waterways, or sprayed on the paddocks.

              • Robert Guyton

                "You Know full well that woodlands on the Canterbury plains have a major threat of windblow"

                That's because there's too few of them: join them up and they won't blow over. Underplant them with a mix of supportive shrubs, herbs and vines and they'll be rock-solid in the face of any gale. Dairy farms lack diversity, despite the plaintive wails of industry spinmeisters. Pre-agricultural Planet Earth was rich, rich I tells ya, in life. We've stripped the place all-but-clean and we're still stripping as fast as we can go. How many native frogs live on dairy farms in NZ? How many geckoes, titi, peripatus, kahukaura, kahikatea and so on? Precious few.

                • Ian

                  Christchurch was a swamp.Lets demolish all the buildings ,recycle the concrete and steel and restore the original wetlands.You have got to be nuts.Dairy farms are developing diversity rapidly ,Robert . Not that you would notice or give any recognition too.I hear your plea ,but your at the extreme end of the spectrum,but probably not when I read the absolute bollocks the urban Taliban come up with. You guys need to be a lot more considerate to the wellbeing and mental health of the people you are attacking.It is not easy being a dairy farmer at the moment.

                  • Stuart Munro.

                    "Lets demolish all the buildings ,recycle the concrete and steel and restore the original wetlands."

                    Brownlee did that – called it the "Red Zone" like something out of The Stalker.

                  • vto

                    Ian, you're full of shit, and pretty much every one of your points above in the various posts are demonstrably untrue.

                    I will repeat again – you lot were told in the 90's that if dairy was intensified then the waterways will be degraded and the drinking water will get polluted. You lot ignored that and went ahead anyway – now the waterways are degraded and the drinking water is polluted. What a bunch of c&%#s.

                    Dairy has not earned a place in Canterbury. It does not deserve to stay.

                    Take your shit elsewhere. The resentment at your actions since the 90's is intense

                    • Ian

                      Abuse is all you are good at. How about some facts to prove I am wrong. Your full of soundbites, angst and envy and you better believe the resentment building from rural NZ towards the urban Taliban you represent is intense.

                      [lots of soundbitey, angry people on both sides. And abuse. ‘Full of shit’ and ‘urban Taliban’ are both terms designed to provoke a reaction. Maybe both Ian and vto can post support for their arguments rather than this degenerating into a flame war. Thanks – weka]

                    • weka

                      mod note for Ian and vto above.

          • phillip ure 12.1.1.3.2

            'urban taliban'…

            (i feel a t-shirt coming on..say it loud – and say it proud..!)

    • bwaghorn 12.2

      You need to import several million more people or it would go to waste . A very small % of the land around ohakune grows carrots yet many tonnes of 2nd grade carrots get fed to stock.

  13. Pat 13

    "There’s an obvious need to offer a just transition for dairy and tourism workers too, because they are both industries where cuts will have to be made. It’s not something either industry wants to hear and there’ll be resistance, but if we can at least start talking about how we can look after dairy and tourism workers into the future then that’s a good thing.”

    Oosterman says it’s not an easy message to deliver, but the sooner we start talking about it as a country the better.

    “In order to mobilise people to support this vision and to address big picture stuff, we will need a shift towards a fairer taxation system and more generous social welfare. It’s certainly not straightforward, and it’s urgent – we don’t have long to do this.”

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/09/04/788463/climate-despair-and-eco-anxiety

    The observation that the reforms of the 80s were necessary but poorly executed has been forwarded by the PM during and since the election and any future radical transition requires better protections for those negatively impacted…a view supported by those discussing globalisation in general….IF (and that is yet to be decided) we are going to attempt to address CC then we must present a roadmap that addresses the concerns of the vested interests…that is not to say we roll over and give everything demanded but a viable exit strategy must be offered for whether we like it or not the productive sector has always been the primary concern of governments and economists…and it needs to occur yesterday.

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