Heading into an election that will be won or lost in the towns and cities, farmers must get a hearing on environmental issues, says Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin.
He says with environmental issues “quite significant” in this election year, any changes to environmental regimes must be balanced and fair.
“The outcomes in our rivers don’t just reflect farming; they reflect towns and cities and industries as well.”
He was speaking after the recent two-day Red Meat Sector conference in Dunedin, jointly hosted by the MIA with Beef + Lamb NZ.
Loughlin says dairy is seen as a “greater culprit” than sheep and beef, but a lot of catchments in NZ have both drystock farming and dairy.
And they include towns and factories, he adds.
“It’s important as we go through an election period in which emotional appeals are made to urban voters, that the appropriate perspective is applied and that the causes of water quality issues are correctly identified and correctly attributed as a basis for dealing with them. “This is because a lot of the rivers in the worst condition in NZ are around our cities and have nothing to do with farming. So we must be vigilant and make sure debates about water quality issues are factually based.”