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 sorely 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.