Hysteria Greenpeace business as usual

Federated Farmers says Greenpeace’s report is verging on hysteria:

Federated Farmers is disappointed Greenpeace has resorted to sensationalist rhetoric in a report published today that implies agriculture and related activities are a threat to all New Zealanders’ health.

The report which goes by the title “Sick of too many cows”, is a predictable if not misguided attack on the primary sector- the country’s largest exporter and employer of around 160,000 people.

“This is Greenpeace doing a good job of what they do best – plenty of headlines and hyperbole. Let’s be frank, those claims made about New Zealanders’ health being endangered due to livestock is extreme to say the least, says Chris Allen, Federated Farmers’ Water Spokesperson.

“What’s particularly disturbing is their accusation that irrigation and farming causes cancers and infectious diseases.”

Federated Farmers expects plenty of hyperbole and sensationalism and welcomes an open forum leading into the General Election, but this latest anti-farming rant smacks of desperation.

It leaves little room for constructive dialogue with no concrete language throughout the report.

The Federation also finds it ironic that the Havelock North water contamination outbreak is raised, yet it had nothing to do with dairy farming nor so called industrial farming or irrigation.

We note Greenpeace acknowledges most farmers are working hard to improve their environmental footprint. However, it’s unfortunate they have not researched basic facts about irrigation and proposed schemes.

“For example, those that have signed up to the Ruataniwha scheme are horticultural enterprises, arable and sheep and beef farmers.

“The fact is there are no new dairy conversions amongst the 190 farmers signed up, while only one irrigator will expand an existing dairy farm by a mere 100ha.

“What is also overlooked is that irrigation is crucial for many fruit and horticultural crops, and there is evidence that irrigation can have better environmental outcomes. The majority of dams being built are for community water and security of supply for drinking water alongside irrigation,” Chris said.

Federated Farmers otherwise is proud of all New Zealand farmers’ focus and efforts towards managing the environment.

Dairy farmers had spent over $1 billion in the past five years, which meant 97% of the waterways on New Zealand dairy farms are now excluded from dairy cattle.

Sheep and beef farmers meanwhile have been main contributors to the establishment of QEII covenants, protecting private land for conservation at a real and opportunity cost of $1.2 to 1.4 billion dollars.

“Let’s be clear, farmers are not solely responsible for what is raised in this report. We are taking ownership through seeking solutions and acting on them. Scaremongering the public with extreme claims in an election year, is short-sighted and lacks integrity,” says Chris.

This scaremongering and extreme claims aren’t just for election year.

It’s business as usual for Greenpeace, high on emotion and low on facts.

They forget, ignore or simply don’t know that farmers have a very high interest in good water quality.

Waterways which run through and near farms are the source of drinking water and the playground for farming families.

Ensuring they are clean isn’t just an academic concept or political point-scoring exercise, it’s personal and immediate.

6 Responses to Hysteria Greenpeace business as usual

  1. Bulaman says:

    Greenpiss are in deep schtook. The Resolute legal process will probably bankrupt them.


  2. Mr E says:

    Greenpeace fail to understand the complexities of water quality. Their “more irrigation = more cows = more pollution” generalises and iin some cases, incorrectly.

    That simplistic mentality fails to address the real problems

    As above the Ruataniwha scheme has been highlighted as an example and Chris quite rightly points out that actually horticulture will be the big winner for this scheme.

    I find it interesting that this piece of information is designed to reduce alarm. It doesnt for me.

    The simple fact is typically Horticulture outputs relatively high levels of nutrients, particularly Nitrate. A real life example is the reports of on the Waimea plains where only 5 dairy farms exist highlight this.


    I am interested that both GreenPeace and the Feds are not recognising this. It seems the elephant in the room has escaped all gaze.

    And of course the elephant is inputs. It doesnt matter what farm type you have high inputs = high outputs (within reason)

    For that reason the actions of GreenPeace will fail to have an impact.


  3. invercargillgreen says:

    Mr E, Greenpeace get their information from freshwater scientists and numerous studies support by the Environment Commissioner and the Ministry of the Environment. There have been excellent articles in the Listener and one in the latest New Zealand Geographic, all say the same thing.

    Interestingly there is a recently formed a group called the Southland Water Forum and a good number of our members are farmers. They have joined our group because they feel that Federated Farmers has its collective heads in the sand and they they want to work more closely with groups that have concerns for water quality.

    And you are wrong about high inputs = high outputs (unless you mean increased energy leakage). Many dairy farmers have found that reducing stock numbers and “inputs” that they experience similar or increased profits. Farming “sustainably” does make sense.

    There has been much recent research on the external cost of dairying and what has been revealed is that if many famers had to pay the for the external costs (currently being subsidised by taxpayers and ratepayers) then their businesses would cease to be profitable:


    Click to access Estimating_Values_of_Environmental_Impacts_of_Dairy_Farming_in_New_Zealand.pdf


  4. Mr E says:

    Great to hear another Water Group set up in Southland. I have lost count of the regional water groups – 18 or so.

    Should I presume your group is looking to improve Urban water quality? The 18 odd others are working on Rural water.

    Dare I say it Southland could desperately use with a group focusing on urban issues. They are many, often disgusting and seem to receive little attention. On that basis it would also seem hypocritical for an urban dominated group (presumably) to ignore their own backyard liability.

    You mentioned you have farmers. I am a little worried that farmers are dominating these groups. I have heard that some groups are pushing to try and get urbanites joining. I think this will be important during the catchment limit setting process. So it is great to hear urbanites joining such things.

    Nice to chat, Invercargill Green.


  5. invercargillgreen says:

    Presumably, Mr E, you are talking about catchment groups. We are looking to lobby on all water issues and will be meeting with other councils regarding their management of sewage and storm water.

    However while many urban waterways are in a bad state they are actually showing improvement, while those in pastural areas are still declining. Urban waterways also make up only 1% of the total.

    It is great to see many farmers aligning with environmental groups and I am hoping that this will be extended further before the threat of fracking in Southland becomes a reality.


  6. Mr E says:

    Invercargill Green,

    An Urban lobby group, where regional/rural catchment groups are about improvement actions as well as participation in regulatory outcomes.

    In my view catchment groups have set a standard that other groups will be measured against. I’d be very disappointed if urban based groups were all about lobbying and no other activity related to improvements.

    An urban based group that physically and economically acted to change the situation would no doubt gain a lot of respect – as well as media attention (potentially)

    I can think of many many actions that can be done. Many I have done myself.

    Food for thought.


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