The farming sector has its head in the sand if it doesn’t realise water is a huge issue waiting to be tackled, says Labour’s primary industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor.
If agricultural organisations like HortNZ or IrrigationNZ “are smart they will show leadership on this issue; if they are dumb, they won’t”, he told Dairy News.
“This simply [requires] a user-pays regime where we need to spend money to clean up waterways, to better monitor what is happening with our water management systems and waterways and for more research.”
O’Connor says user-pays, as a principle, has long been acceptable to the electorate -- including farmers -- but the water issue has been largely ignored for a long time.
“All you have to do is refer to John Luxton’s (former DairyNZ chairman) opinion that for the dairy industry in particular the social licence to operate is quickly evaporating. The industry needs to get ahead of a number of issues.