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Poisoned Pasture

Written By: - Date published: 2:04 am, May 29th, 2014 - 86 comments
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“The New Zealand dairy industry will be dead in fifteen years.” Coming from a well-informed and highly placed investor source met recently in China, these words made me sit up. His reason – nitrate-poisoned pasture product will be increasingly unacceptable to environmentally conscious customers. Here at home corporate farmers and the National government seem to want to accelerate the process. It’s a recipe for disaster.

The issues are very well laid out in an excellent article by Rebecca McFie  in this week’s Listener (paywalled). Farmers on the Canterbury plains between the Rakaia and the Rangitata have grown rich from free water. But the leaching from nitrates has progressed to the point where “nitrate levels in groundwater are higher than World Health Organisation drinking water guidelines.”

As McFie says, the horse has now bolted “but neither the farmers nor the government-controlled regulator ECan want to kill the golden goose that has delivered the region such prosperity” so the rules devised by ECan are designed to give farmers more time. But McFie concludes “In the tug of war between environmental and economic concerns, the proposed rules have come down squarely on the side of dairy-led wealth.”

And it’s not just in Canterbury. McFie goes on “On the dry east coast of the North Island, civic and farming leaders want what Ashburton has. They, too, would like to turn water into agricultural gold, and they want environmental rules that don’t stand in the way.”

As does the National government. “Support for big irrigation schemes is a central plank of its economic policy..up to $400 million has been tagged fro investment in new water projects over the next few years, with $80million appropriated in 2013 and  further $40 million in the 2014 budget.

“At the same time ‘bottom line’ rules have been drafted by the government.  The proposed National Objectives Farmework gives a nod to public concern about the impact of intensive farming on rivers and lakes, but leaves ample room for further agricultural run-off. According to Parliamentary commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright, the proposals would allow for levels of nitrate toxicity 10 times the current median concentration in the lower reaches of the Waikato river.”

The standard-bearer for the Government’s ambitions to use water as a driver of economic growth is the proposed $300 million Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme in Central Hawkes Bay.

It has been subject to a Board of Enquiry which to the dismay of the scheme’s promoters have “delivered a possibly fatal blow to the plans to use irrigation. At the heart of the debate is whether environmental regulation should be for toxicity or for ecosystem health. But the Board has till June 28 to make its final decision and the corporate farmer promoters who have the ear of the government are fighting back.

Yesterday’s DomPost carried an extensive article showing that the limits set by the board are already exceeded in the dairy farming areas. In fact the data is from 2006-2010 so the probability is that they are already well exceeded. Corporate farmer interests argue that because existing farms will need to be regulated, the limits should be relaxed! You can have your say on Stuff – there’s an on-line poll.

If my well-informed source is right, short-term thinking by farmers and the government may mean it won’t take fifteen years for the dairy industry to become defunct.




86 comments on “Poisoned Pasture ”

  1. Saarbo 1

    Thanks Mike. From an economic development point of view this is New Zealand’s number 1 issue. Farmer’s need to show real leadership. The irony is, at this point, the only thing that will save our waterways is a drop in the dairy payout.

    There is only one solution at this point, in high risk areas farmers need to drop stocking rates.

    • dave 1.1

      these guys pay no taxes run there farms at a lose and when it turns to custard will run to the hills and leave the whole mess for the tax payer to clean up they need to be held accountable employing more tax inspectors would a good place to start and they shouldn’t be allowed use of free water the rest of us pay through the nose for water why are farmers getting a free ride welfare for cows. farmers need to pay the environmental cost !polluter pays ,naaaaaah tax payer pays, for an industry that’s only 4.35 percent of new Zealand GDP they sure as hell are taking more than there fair share this is where intergenerational justice must and should happen. may be farmers should be required to pay into a clean up fund just like the nuclear industry in the usa pays over the life time of a plant to pay for decommissioning. there is no free ride that’s what nact tells us. only if your a farmer I guess !

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Nact tell us that there’s no free-ride while ensuring the rich have a free-ride. The only people who pay are the poor and middle class.

  2. wonderpup 2

    Time to get rid of that pesky RMA, huh? I mean, think of all those Mom and Pop investors in non-farmer held shares in Fonterra!

    • dave 2.1

      if the party is over current owners of the dairy industry will off load those shares to mom and pops. pension funds and there grand mother and all the contaminated farms to likes of oravida then shoot through with there loot .

  3. captain hook 3

    shit. I need a new ute and the private school fees and a trip to london once a year and a pacific cruise for the olds and a trip to South Africa for the super rugger finals and a new chainsaw and a jetski. Let er rip mate. If it all fucks up then skewer the bastard with some no 8 wire and eat it.

  4. JKV 4

    What is it with the left and always wanting to run this country into the ground? I mean this is really confected outrage. If you can’t run the place you just seem to want to wreck it. My father was a dairy farmer and I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. At one stage he worked seven days a week for fifteen years at a stretch without a holiday. My cousin has recently taken his own life because of the stress and debt involved with being a dairy farmer. This article makes me feel ill.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Wait – your cousin died because of the current broken system of dairy farming – but you are a supporter of the status quo anyway?

      What the fuck is wrong with you, if you cannot see the need for change after the suicide of your cousin, and after your father worked himself to the bone depriving you of family holidays for 15 years?

    • RedLogix 4.2


      Working yourself into an early grave – or worse – is a form of denial that the industry is broken. Dairy farmers need to wake up and figure out where they stand on this and take collective responsibility and action before it is too late.

      I’d bet anything you like it was not the stress of farming that killed your cousin – it was the unsupportable load of debt.

    • Tracey 4.3

      So are you saying the waterways are being wrecked or that it’s ok to wreck them cos your family farms? I am a bit confused?

    • blue leopard 4.4

      @ JKV,

      How is it ‘confected’ outrage?
      You haven’t addressed the issue raised in this post – that the land and water is being managed in a manner that is going to disallow people to continue farming or drinking water.

      Do you think the points raised are untrue?

      If they are not untrue, raising such points are about working out a way to keep farming going – to avoid running farming into the ground- not the converse.

      I am sorry to hear about your cousin.

  5. vto 5

    The farmers have been fighting back against the “greenies” (being anyone who wants clean water and environment) on this for some time. They have resorted to outright abuse of people, such as respected freshwater scientist Mike Joy by the likes of that absolute fool of a man Don Nicholson ex-Fed Farmers head, and his lackey (can’t recall his name but he personally denigrated Joy in a tv debate by ridiculing him).

    These farmers have done this in a very public way and their answer to the issue has been nil – just abuse.

    But now things have moved on a little, the last couple years or so. Now they cannot hide – the issue is well out in the open, as is the evidence and the science. Jan Wright, commissioner for the Environment reported recently that at current levels all waterways will be polluted beyond use (by anyone else other than farmers that is……… says it all really), …

    … and now by the Ruataniwha Dam Board of Enquiry which has exposed to the public the nitrate and other toxicity levels needed to prevent a waterway from dying (or, rather, being of no use to any other creature or plant on the planet except farmers …. (says it all really …. ). And that those Board-recommended levels are in fact already exceeded ffs.

    So, the farmers now have no choice. They cannot simply abuse people. The facts are well and truly in the public sphere. Everyone knows about it. Everyone comments on it (except to farmers for fear of more abuse … true).

    Just this weekend people close to us commented that they wished to take their family to a river on a warm Saturday but there was not a single one around that was safe. Thanks farmers. Thanks for fucking nothing.

    So the ball is now well and truly in the farmers court… and the court of their bidders, the National Party.

    Over to them. What will they do? Will they man up, take responsibility, and move to repair? Or will they keep pushing for everything they can get their greedy mitts on?

    I suspect they will do nothing except act human – which is not something to get hopes up about. They are human. God knows why they were ever put up on some sort of pedestal – they are far from anything special as a breed of human. They have been knocked well and truly from their pedestal.

    Over to the farmers. The whole world is watching.

    p.s. let us know if you need a hand. because everyone else is human too and another human trait is helping fellow manwoman

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      I wouldn’t lump all farmers in as a group. The real hard core “at any price” dairy farmers are a minority, and often an indebted one.

      Fonterra could regulate nitrate levels quickly and easily amongst their supplier base, but they would also have to accept that endless economic growth (in this case, in milk volumes) is over.

      Also, Don Nicholson speaks for fuck all farmers. About 14 of them at last count.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Over to them. What will they do? Will they man up, take responsibility, and move to repair? Or will they keep pushing for everything they can get their greedy mitts on?

      The answer that they’ve always given – more farming to make themselves richer at our expense and this government will give it to them.

      I suspect they will do nothing except act human – which is not something to get hopes up about. They are human.

      No, if they were human they would have stopped the pollution 30 years ago. What they are is psychopaths.

      • Colonial Viper 5.2.1

        That’s a fucking outrageous comment Draco. Much the same as accusing anyone driving a car for being a psychopath because they are bringing about climate disaster on the planet.

        • John W

          Exactly. You have got it. Read it back in a few years and see how prophetic such a judgement will be regarded.

          Being responsible is accepting the consequences of your actions.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Have the farmers continued polluting despite being told that they really needed to stop?
          Have the farmers been advocating to be able to pollute even more?

          The answer to both those is yes so, no, I don’t consider it an outrageous comment. Their actions show their attitude.

          Cars are a government problem as they keep insisting that we need more roads for more cars rather than more and better public transport all of which can be electric.

          • Colonial Viper

            90% (well maybe 80%+) of farmers respond quickly to clear regulations, sensible rules and even handed enforcement. Labour allowed massive dairy conversions and National is continuing the trend. So calling these people “psychopaths” is beyond the pale.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Your saying that government regulation is the part that missing but the farmers keep demanding less regulation. Hell, IIRC, Labour were going to put in place regulation to prevent the pollution of our waterways in ~2000 but the farmers told the government that they would do it themselves voluntarily and so the government of the time left it. The result is worsening pollution of our waterways.

              And I’ve said for years that the laws aren’t there to restrain the majority but the minority who’ll shit over everyone and everything if there aren’t laws that can be used against them.

              • Ad

                I think that’s misdirected. Farmers are responding almost entirely to the market signals that the big NZ dairy companies particularly Fonterra send them for more bulk production.

                Best recent signal I’ve seen for farmers is the Danone takeover of Huttons. Fonterra if they had half a competitive brain would realise that more value-added food manufacturers and suppliers are getting right into their productive heartland.

                Farmers don’t currently have enough choice about where they could send their product to.

                If I ruled the world next election, I would instigate a review of the results of the Fonterra merger legislation, and require them, again, to be a propoer value-added company rather than a bulk production entity.

                It’s the business model of the almost-monopoly that is driving the problems, not the farmers.

          • Camryn Brown

            Can any scientist confirm how long it takes nitrates to leech into the waterways, in general? I’ve heard it said that farmers have already responded to the clear signals and nitrates are now being applied properly… but the waterways are so bad because of the nitrates that didn’t fix 15-20 years ago that’re now reaching them. This theory says that the problem is now well addressed but we need to wait for the benefits of that. Can anyone confirm?

  6. shona 6

    Which is why so many Canterbury dairy farmers have been cashing up in recent years and heading to Northland(highest growth of the north island regions at the moment surprise surprise). The land is comparatively cheap it is a traditional dairying area and it rains here . Unlike the East coast and Canterbury.
    There will be a non Fonterra Dairy factory built in Northland in the not too distant future.

  7. ianmac 7

    The decision over the Ruataniwha Dam was to set maximum levels allowed for nitrate levels. But the Government and farming groups want that limit level doubled. So changes to the RMA and no doubt arm twisting behind the scenes will have those limits raised. (Don’t you want new schools, hospitals, etc etc/)
    Swimming and fishing and drinking fresh water will be a distant memory. Sorry grandchildren. Them were the far off days long long ago

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      The current allowable level there is already way way too high and actually needs to be halved, if anything.

      • ianmac 7.1.1

        Yes but the “investors” need the limits to be lifted for the scheme to be viable. Dr Smith’s strong arm boys will “encourage” the change upwards. Watch this space.

        • ianmac

          Here we go:
          ” The lead backer of the Ruataniwha dam proposal has told a meeting that the government-appointed board of inquiry’s decision on the scheme does “not pass the sanity check”.

          Andy Pearce, chairman of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company, told regional councillors that the $275 million scheme could not go ahead under the board’s draft decision, which restricts the amount of nitrogen that could leach into the Tukituki River catchment from surrounding farms and horticulture operations.

          The decision set a limit of 0.8 milligrams of nitrogen per litre of water, which Pearce said “did not pass the sanity check”.

          However, ecologist Mike Joy said those comments, and others made recently by the likes of Irrigation NZ and Federated Farmers, must have left the board of inquiry members “feeling like [Justice Peter] Mahon did in the Erebus inquiry”, with increasing pressure on them to change their minds.
          “The guidelines used as the basis of river health protection by regional councils has been around 0.5mg/litre for years. I think the board saw 0.8 as a reasonable level.”

          Pearce said that the option of mounting a High Court challenge would be decided once the board’s final decision was made on June 28. “We haven’t turned our minds to that yet.”

          When councillor Rick Barker said he had heard from sources in Wellington that the Government was looking to legislate “over the top of the board’s decision”, Pearce said: “I have no knowledge of that and I’m certainly not willing to speculate on any such piece of nonsense.”

  8. Marius 8

    Interesting read. Frankly, i’d be happy to see the demise of the dairy industry if they continue to refuse to…get their shit together

  9. Max Kelly 9

    As a child/youth I could pretty much swim in any river or lake I came to without fear of it being polluted. Not anymore. The loss of this essential rite of my youth should fill everyone with fear. I don’t have kids, but have many friends who do, I would want for them the same opportunities I experienced, that of being able to trust in the sanctity, the cleanliness, of any body of water they might encounter. Nitrates have been linked to Cancer, there is no question around this. There is also no question around the National Parties attitude towards the Environment, they put money 1st, Environment last. This has been proved time and time again. They are environmental treasoners, some, but not all, Farmers and their cronies are no better. Humanity has 40 years left to live, unless some radical changes occur. I think we are incapable of such substanial change, and so our end will come. So be it.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Humanity has 40 years left to live, unless some radical changes occur. I think we are incapable of such substanial change, and so our end will come. So be it.

      I think the globalised civilisation as we recognise it today will have largely gone in 40 years, but a fair number of people will still be kicking around. At least 2-3B anyway.

      • Ad 9.1.1

        I think there will be no Great Leap Backward at all.

        Let’s reconvene on this when weve retired.

        • Pasupial


          You get everything backwards, so that’s hardly a surprise.

          Nor is your non-solution solution.

          Others won’t be so complacent.

          • Ad

            Your complacency is to will the apocalypse – the worst moral laziness of all

  10. RedLogix 10

    The root problem here is debt.

    Grossly overpriced land being strip-mined by Aussie banks.

    Sort debt levels and the nitrate levels will follow.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      1) Restart the government owned Rural Bank (now a division of Kiwi Bank).
      2) Refinance dairy farm debt (the vast majority of the debt belongs to just 20% of dairy farmers) at very favourable rates.
      3) Require as part of that refinancing that the farm must meet strict environmental, operational and employment standards.
      4) Default on the T&Cs means Landcorp gets the farm.

      • RedLogix 10.1.1

        Which is a good start. How to prevent that cheap money from further pumping up prices also needs to be considered.

        The big problem here is too many people farming for capital gain rather than cash flow. The sticking point will be all the older established property owners reluctant to see their ‘paper values’ eroded.

      • Phil 10.1.2

        The root problem here is debt. Grossly overpriced land being strip-mined by Aussie banks.

        2) Refinance dairy farm debt (the vast majority of the debt belongs to just 20% of dairy farmers) at very favourable rates.

        So… debt isn’t actually the root problem?
        It’s a problem for some farmers, but very few are at risk of going under water if land prices fall or the fonterra payout shrinks.

        3) Require as part of that refinancing that the farm must meet strict environmental, operational and employment standards.

        Post-GFC, and in particular post-Crafar, the commercial banks are taking a much greater interest in the environmental standards of their farming clients.

        They’re doing this not because of a government edict or regulation, but because they recognise good risk management practices when they see them, and implement them.

        • Colonial Viper

          They’re doing this not because of a government edict or regulation, but because they recognise good risk management practices when they see them, and implement them.

          What do bankers know about environmental and ecological risk management? That’s right, stacked full of BComms and accountants, basically nothing.

          • Naturesong

            If the industry is big enough, they’ll get an actuary to assess risk vectors to long term sustainability.

            In New Zealand, Dairy is big enough.

            Currently though, I imagine the amount of cash they can make off debt fuelled capital gain far outweighs the prospect (or even certainty) of the industry crashing in the medium term

          • Phil

            What do bankers know about environmental and ecological risk management?

            Glib off-the-cuff response:
            A fuck of a lot more than you’ve ever demonstrated a knowledge of.

            Considered response:
            Among the five major rural-lending banks in particular (ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Westpac, and Rabobank) there are literally hundreds of relationship managers in regional and provincial branches across the country. They don’t spend their days locked away in ivory tower offices; they’re out in the fields, boots on the ground, talking to and understanding what the needs of the farming community are and assessing the future risks the industry is likely to face.

            We’ve all seen from the likes of Crafar that environmental and social pressure from consumers can destroy a business. That’s the market in action. Banks are keenly aware of this because, at the end of the day, the bank is out of pocket if your business fails and you don’t pay back your loan. As a response, it’s common now for rural loans to include covenants and conditions that require strict adherence to environmental standards and demonstrated compliance with labour laws.

  11. John W 11

    IPCC warns a programmed reduction in consumption of animal products is a necessary part of survival attempts.
    We probably won’t make it to survive in any large numbers but farming animals is destructive to health and planet climate.
    Which part of that is hard to understand.

    • weka 11.1

      Farming animals for profit and export is destructive to health and climate. Sustainably farming animals for small amounts of meat and other products is not. Whether any farming is sustainable also depends largely on geography and local climate, and what the human needs are. What is sustainable in NZ is different than what is sustainable in central Asia or Western Europe. What is sustainable in Southland is different than what is sustainable in Northland.

  12. Anon 12

    Farmers rock. Small family farmers work hard. REally Hard. But they are not all rich – some are land rich maybe – but not rich. Especially ones near growing cities with landprices going up. FArmers create food that we all need and eat. They need support to keep the streams clean. They need financial assistance. And NZ farmers do it hard compared to European Farmers and U.S. Farmers who get support and subsidies. If you work in and office and live in an apartment and drink cappucinno and eat hamburgers you are part of the environmental problem – so let’s stop pointing fingers at farmers. This problem belongs to everyone who eats food. Lets support farmers and scientists to come up with more sustainable practices. Farming is beautiful!

    • Tracey 12.1

      The problem is company owned farms and family farmers trying to keep up. Those companies have NO long term liability and are profit drivem. BUT farmers have chosen to sell to those companies, home and away, to get the highest possible price. There are great farmers out there who give a shit about the land, tge rivers and the animals, but they are getting outnumbered by those driven solely by the bottom line… And we do help farmers, a fuck of a lot actually.

    • Bill 12.2

      There’s a fair bit there that I agree with Anon. I’ve no particular beef with farmers per se, and also get uneasy when city kids tar all farmers with the same brush.

      Corporate farms and current farming practices, rather than farmers, are the problem. And many smaller farmers are probably under pressure to comply with current farming orthodoxies and/or ‘buy in’ to dairy in a desperate attempt to pass something on to their kids.

      Can’t say that ‘farming is beautiful’ though. Animal husbandry is cruel. Mono-culture is stupid.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.3

      Hey, I got an idea – how about the farmers, who are getting all the benefits of being farmers, pay for all that stuff themselves rather than demanding that we pay to make them richer?

      • anon 12.3.1

        That’s the point Draco. Have you had lunch? Did you grow it? The farmers are not the sole beneficiaries. We all are. We all eat. We all love tractors, and gumboots, and working dogs, and landscapes, and orchards, and vineyards, and horses, and fresh milk , and cheese and icecream- it’s part of being a kiwi. And it’s been bloody tough on farmers at times. Really bloody tough. Kids aren’t flocking to take over farms, because it’s not a soft easy way to make money. No – there flocking to cities, to uni to do arts degrees and live in apartments and have their entertainment laid on by the state. Does that mean they have no economic footprint and aren’t responsible for the streams. If you eat. Then you are responsible too. More support for farmers – NOT LESS. And they don’t need another kick in the guts.

        • Peter

          How did you farm before Kapuni gas was turned into urea, and spread over your paddocks? This is a relatively new situation, and it won’t last. Either the allowance for high nitrate in water or the gas used to make it…

        • Colonial Viper

          anon, your cheerleading is not very useful in bringing understanding to the issues of an aging farmer population and unsustainable farming practices.

          There must be concrete plans to make buying small farms of say 100ha or less affordable and economic for young people, if not then of course they aren’t going to be interested in working long hours for poor pay, building up a farm for someone else

        • Draco T Bastard

          The farmers are not the sole beneficiaries. We all are. We all eat.

          Considering that would the farmers be willing to be hirelings of the community with the farms owned by the state?

          If they’re willing to do that then they’ll get my full support. Until then they’re just more capitalist bludgers.

    • Naturesong 12.4

      There are many farmers, particularly established family run farms that are actively engaged in improving their farming systems and ensuing that runoff is minimised.

      The oft repeated meme that the Green Party and other environmental organisations are anti-farming is a straw man argument designed to divide the people who are natural allies; farmers and everyone who understands that shitting where you live is a bad idea.

      It’s the corporatisation of farming in New Zealand, and the ignorant lobbying by Fonterra and Federated Farmers that do both farmers, and the people of New Zealand a disservice.

      And, here’s a song; Farmers Daughter

  13. tc 13

    National, ensuring a short term brighter future for a select few without any regard for what comes next as they’ll be long gone.

    Same old national.

  14. Peter 14

    It’s not all bad, but just mostly bad. There are a few places, like Otago, where everyone has signed on to much more stringent nitrate limits than those proposed in the Ruataniwha, but sadly, this is an exception.

  15. anon 15

    Labour the farmer bashing party. Same old Labour.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      Please list Labour policies for bashing farms.

      • srylands 15.1.1

        This is a sample of provisions in the November 2013 Policy Platform which would act against the interests of farmers. I could keep going, but that is probably a sufficient sample to answer your question.

        3.7 Labour is committed to a productive and innovative economy that has:
         high-value, high-wage jobs

         employment relations legislation that promotes collective bargaining, protects minimum standards and guarantees working people and their unions a voice
         engaged, valued, and well-trained workforces assured of a living wage that allows working families to participate fully in community activities
         regular increases to the minimum wage
         A tripartite framework for collaboration with government, businesses and unions.

        3.8 Labour will undertake sustained diversification of the New Zealand economy to improve standards of living and export success. Manufacturing is vital in a modern, successful economy. We are committed to advanced manufacturing and services, supported by new partnerships, to expand investment in research and development.

        Delivering sustainable economic development

        3.29 Labour will implement an economic development approach that is ‘clean, green, and clever’. This approach will maintain high environmental standards, promote high-value production, and favour a lower-carbon, more renewable energy future.

        3.31 Labour will implement a New Zealand manufacturing strategy. Labour believes that manufacturing has been the lost opportunity in New Zealand’s economy since the 1980s. We will focus on manufacturing because it will deliver high-performing jobs, high-performing workplaces, investment,
        innovation, exports, and opportunities for improved productivity.

        4.12 Climate change—Labour wants New Zealand to honour its international commitment to reduce our gross greenhouse gas emissions through good science and responsible behaviour by companies and individuals. We will encourage the development of mitigation technologies and industries, such as forestry. We will make sure our Emissions Trading Scheme has environmental credibility as an ‘all gases all sectors’ scheme, ultimately free from subsidies to greenhouse gas polluters.

        4.13 Labour recognises the need for New Zealand to prepare for, and mitigate, the likely environmental,
        economic, and social impacts of climate change, and will take action to plan for this based on scientific advice.

        4.14 Energy—Labour will prioritise the development of renewable and low-carbon energy technologies for a smooth transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels. With a strong base of existing renewable energy including hydro, geothermal, and wind, we believe all New Zealanders should benefit from our use of sustainable natural resources.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Can’t see any farm bashing in there. Hell, it probably means that the farmers will get some of what Anon was asking for.

        • lprent

          Interesting that you consider that creating “high-value, high-wage jobs” would cause farmers harm. Perhaps you could explain your thinking on that point?

          While you are at it, provide a link to material you quote. From memory there was a section on farming in that document. Perhaps that would be relevant.

          • Tracey

            This is the guy who had his

            “why dont they go fruit picking” myth blown sky high yesterday evidence many do just that and its hurting their childrens education and development.

            Slylands is like the travel agent in little britain

            “the market says no”

            But he is selective cos only 53% of businesses are optimistic and the biggest concern is high interest rates and high kiwi dollar. Nats refuse to address the later ans see the former as a good sign.

            Of course the market is beginning to say no to milk solids…

    • Colonial Viper 15.2

      Labour the farmer bashing party. Same old Labour.

      Are you interested in making small farms and family farming more affordable and sustainable? National is doing nothing in that regard.

      • anon 15.2.1

        Yes I am Colonial Viper. My comment was ill considered and reactionary in response to TCs national comment. When in reality it’s neither. It’s an environmental issue that belongs to all people. And I don’t like to see farmers being leveraged as a political game. I hope we can support better farming practices, which are the responsibility of all of us. There are some excellent examples of farmers doing amazing things for the environment. EG the award winning conservation at Young Nick Heads station Hawkes Bay. And also the damage done by intensive farming which is a reality and needs addressing. But it requires investment, science and financial support for Farmers. It’s not reasonable to put the whole cost on farmers. Would consumers pay extra for milk that says, Clean Stream Dairy Practices. Maybe they would – maybe we as consumers need to put our money where our mouth is. Maybe that should be the next free range eggs. We blame the farmers for not paying up but would consumers?

        • Draco T Bastard

          But it requires investment, science and financial support for Farmers.

          Under the present capitalist system the whole cost is supposed to fall upon the farmers so that they’re incentivised to do a better job. What we get in reality is the farmers whinging about it.

          We blame the farmers for not paying up but would consumers?

          Isn’t that what the market is for? If the consumers don’t pay then the farmers go out of business, the banks lose a lot of money and we get clean streams. If the consumers do pay then we also get clean streams.

        • vto

          anon, you’re idea that we are all responsible is just loony.

          Do you remember when the building industry and government regulation (or rather, lack of regulation) caused the leaky building crisis? Do you? Do you know what happened? People jumped and down and caused a legitimate stink about it….

          … the government and industry got together and resolved it (repairs still ongoing too). They took responsibility, some regulation was put in place by the government, and the industry moved forward under a new set of rules.

          You farmers need to do the same. I understand there is some work being done to repair but when you get CPW and Ruataniwha and others seeking to do the equivalent of worsening the leaky home situation then your credibility goes out the window.

          And further, did you take any responsibility for the leaky home situation because you live in a house ? Betcha you didn’t. Your argument is a nonsense.

          And give up on the ‘farmers work so hard’ bullshit. It is a gip, a crock, simple bullshit. I and I’m sure many others have worked in various sectors. The farmers are not special. Get it in your head man – farmers are not special. They may think they are, but they are not.

        • Tracey

          The farmers get ripped off at their gates, but not by the consumer. Farmers are being ripped off by the kinds of people who national represents.

          Farmers markets have grown because farmers can get a better return direct from consumers. I buy most of my beef onlone from a farmer down the line. He gets close to what it costs on supermarket shelves, but HE GETS IT?

          I wonder what the comparable costs to a farmer are between converting to dairy or going organic.

          In new plymouth area there are dolly milk vending machines. $2 bucks a litre. People line up and out it comes through a vending machine.

        • Ad

          If we keep seeking to be the world’s cheapest bulk dairy supplier, we will continue to drive our regulations including environmenal downweards to achieve the highest production at the least cost.
          That is the way to oblivion.

          If we generate dairy products with the highest value add possible – including world-leading environmental practices – people will pay the extra.

          Here’s two examples of where scale is spectacularly wrong for New Zealand:
          There’s a smallholder on the Kapiti coast, she runs 8 cows. All she makes out of that is full rounds of artisan cheese. makes a good living, no debt.

          Another, my uncle in Waitakere Ranges. Runs 12 cows. Sells pure milk to neigbours, cheesemakers, and chefs. They adore it. He makes a good and low-debt living.

          Far more farmers need to step off the death-cycle of scale, and onto the virtuous scale of value-add and low debt.

          If youdon’t believe consumers will pay more for these environmental standards, check out the egg section at any city New World’s. They pay my friend, they pay.

          • Will@Welly

            Go back maybe 15 – 20 years, Kapiti Cheeses were the No. 1 premium cheese brand in N.Z. Small, niche, bloody good cheese, now I think they are a subsidiary of Fonterra.
            Like so many good N.Z. companies, they get swallowed up, and just become another ‘brand’.
            Remember Watties. Kiwi owned. Proud to have them as a ‘brand’, now part of Heinz, or whoever. And in the ‘good old days’ tinned apricots were New Zealand, now they tend to be South African. No disrespect, but bland, tasteless.
            So that’s what we are up against. a big old chestnut, willing to walk over everything to get its way.

    • JKV 15.3

      Absolutely agree anon. Always have been, always will be. Only the Greens are worse. If they ever get into government they will wreck this country. Look at Australia – 6 years of Labour/Greens govt and they have completely trashed the place. Have utterly no understanding of how the real world works.

      • vto 15.3.1

        What is it with people like you and facts? Shall we look at some …. courtesy of the national party, act party and general right wing conservative and neoliberal policy and actions of the last decades ….

        First, polluted rivers and waterways that can no longer be swum in.
        Second, drinking water supplies now infected with shit.
        Third, the global financial crisis leading to a huge proportion of the population being stripped of their life’s earnings.
        Fourth, the 29 dead men at Pike River thanks to neoliberal policies and individual greed motivations.
        Fifth, the leaky home crisis which is the most costly repair bill in NZs history.

        Shall we continue? Get some facts.
        For what is worth, I used to vote to the right but no longer. Not while their policies lead to destruction and destitution.

        • Colonial Viper

          When JKV talks about “how the real world works” it seems to be referring to an imaginary board game of electronic money and digits as being the “real world”.

          Very odd.

          • Draco T Bastard

            That seems to be true of all RWNJs and most economists as well.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            Translation: “how the real world works” equals “get out of my way or I’ll knock you down”, equals “don’t you know who I am?”

      • Tracey 15.3.2

        You and facts are complete strangers. Keep voting for national, not only wont it bring your cousin back, it wont stop other peoples cousins killing themselves. If you keep doing the same things the same way dont expect different results.

        The greens and farmers actually should have more in common than national tells you…

      • Naturesong 15.3.3

        The Green party in New Zealand has been developing policy since 1990 and has very mature processes.

        Additionally, policy is created and revised by effectively crowdsourcing Green Party members, a fair amount of whom work on farms, in universities, as city professionals (in fact, all walks of life). As a result, policy is subjected to rigorous critical analysis from all sides so rorts, unexpected consequences and potential cost blowouts are exposed pretty quickly.

        As an example, check out their Agriculture and Rural Affairs Policy.

        It’s a far cry from National who seem to create policy by running dog whistles past focus groups (or being given ready made legislation by the NSA; GCSB legislation).

  16. NZJester 16

    Don’t forget all the rivers that will also be dead from all the runoff of all that excess nitrate getting washed into them every time it rains. Then there are cases of effluent ponds overflowing in heavy rains and that getting washed into the rivers.

  17. blue leopard 17

    Isn’t the issue raised in this post just a classic example of how there is something very wrong with the believe that ‘self interest’ drives society without the need for any intervention?

    If farmers were truly self interested, then they might work out that keeping the environment healthy was well worth the effort/money – however this does not appear to be occurring.

    It may be that people are flawed when it comes to seeing the long term consequences of their actions and/or the wider consequences.

    That is why, I thought, we as a society, get people to focus on areas and develop expertise to assess the long term and wider consequences of our actions and why we expect those elected to govern us to heed these expert’s findings, why we demand that there are no conflicting vested interests in our MPs and why we want a media to keep us informed of the changing knowledge being generated by the experts of each field of knowledge.

    • Tracey 17.1

      And some do, but the irony is that farmers hate generalisations being made about them, and rightly so, but some farmers then make awful generalisations about those on welfare.

      My unclebought his farm in the king country as part of his recompense for fighting in wwii.

      He regenerated much of the farm in native forest. Planted a nursery to supply his and other farms at basic cost. At his funeral he was buried in a cardboard coffin, and asked all mourners to plant a tree, be it in city or rural.

      He cared for his waterways and was my idol growing up. Any chance to be on his farm, i took, and followed him like a lamb.

      I dont need convincing that there are good farmers out there. I am interested in tge ones who pollute and take resources without a thoughtto the ecosystem..

      Converting to dairy in drought regions is insanity, and no farmer should condone it let alone seek taxpayer support or sympathy for such a hair brained scheme.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 17.1.1

        There is no intention of me to blame all farmers for what some are doing.

        The thing is though it is not making enough difference when one or two farmers do good things, not when the collective effects of what all farmers are doing are still causing the effects that this report says they are. It is impossible not to talk in generalizations when it comes to assessing the overall effects of an activity – in this case farming.

        Those farmers who are managing their land in a manner that is intelligent i.e. sustainable – one would hope would also be intelligent enough to know they are not being included or held responsible when someone is speaking about the collective destructive effects of poor land and water management practices, in response to a report that proves that farming practices are causing degeneration of land or water.

  18. captain hook 18

    the whole country has become poisonous starting with key, boag ,hooton and gluon and wail boil and davey the fat boy farrar. everything is dripping with their bile and hatred. It will take years to recover from their grimy thumbprints over everything.

  19. Draco T Bastard 19

    Another dead lake

    People used to swim in this lake. Now they can’t. They used to fish and hunt from it. They can’t do that either. And the culprit is pretty clear: years of dairy farming (everything else has been cleaned up. Only farmers get to keep spewing their shit into our waterways).

  20. campbell live last nite had a shock/horror piece on a north waikato lake last nite..

    ..it has turned toxic..everything dying/dead..and is red in colour..

    ..the whole lake is red…

    ..and yes..it is surrounded by ‘intensive’ cow-farming..

    ..and as a cherry on top of the cake..

    ..this foul/fetid lake/water drains into protected wetlands..

    ..how could that not be a better microcosm of how we have been getting it so so wrong..

    ..for so so long..?

    ..and if we don’t do a handbrake-slide u-turn on this..

    ..all of our lakes surrounded by ‘intensive’ cow-farming…

    ..will also turn red..

    (tv3 on demand will have the footage..it will make you angry..)

  21. Roy 21

    The government’s response to all this is to pour millions (>$10 million and rising) into DCD (2-cyanoguanidine) to tie up the nitrogen on the pasture. However DCD is rumoured to have issues of its own on the health of dairy cows if they happen to eat it.

  22. Robert 22

    Its amazing how people from the towns continuously knock farmers.
    If it wasn’t for the dairy industry New Zealand would be bust and the greenies wouldn’t get their benefit.
    Dairy exports are the only thing keeping the country afloat.
    By the way the language and grammar is appalling.

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