The Green Party has a plan to support farmers to move to less polluting, more environmentally sustainable and more profitable ways of farming so that our rivers and lakes are safe to swim in and our drinking water from aquifers is protected.

It is not enough to address the symptoms of dirty rivers, we must also address the causes. The simple fact is that we need fewer hooves on the land, creating less pollution for our waterways. Ten million dairy cows and beef cattle produce the same amount of waste as 141 million people, but without the same standards of waste treatment.

We will put a levy on nitrate pollution from agriculture, starting with intensive dairying, and use the revenue raised to fund a package of game-changing support measures that farmers can use to reduce their impact on our environment. We will:

1. Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming by

  • Extending the Sustainable Farming Fund with an extra $20 million every year.
  • Creating a Transformational Farming Partnership Fund of around $70 million a year.
  • Increasing funding for the Landcare Trust to $16 million over three years.
  • Rewarding tree planting by farmers and landowners.
  • Allowing accelerated depreciation on dairy farm equipment.
  • Support organic farming by introducing national standards, and new funding of $5 million a year.

2. Implement a levy on nitrate pollution to help protect our rivers, lakes and aquifers, which will raise around $136.5 million in the first year. This will fund the programmes listed above, and an additional $20 million a year for freshwater clean-up projects.

3. Put a moratorium on new dairy farm conversions.

4. Wind up Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd and stop providing subsidies for big irrigation projects.

5. Transition away from Palm Kernel Expeller/Extract (PKE) to alternative feed stocks, from 2018.

6. Establish a ‘Good Food Aotearoa New Zealand’ national sustainability accreditation scheme for food products, processors and farmers, so those who work with the land, not against it, can prove it to consumers at home and overseas to fetch a higher price and are more attractive to export markets.

The Good Food Aotearoa New Zealand brand

Our exports and consumers at home trust New Zealand’s clean, green brand, but the reality of our environment isn’t true to that. By creating an independent, sustainable farming accreditation system, farmers can leverage the good work they’re doing to achieve higher prices in export markets and give integrity to our clean, green brand.

The nitrate pollution levy

The levy will initially be set at $2 per kilogram of nitrate that is lost to land and water per hectare of farm, per year. Dairy intensification over the last three decades is directly linked to rapidly declining water quality. Initially, the levy will apply only to dairy farms but we will extend a fair pollution levy to all forms of agriculture and horticulture over time.

Our Confidence and Supply Agreement includes a commitment to improve water quality and prioritise achieving healthy rivers, lakes and aquifers. We're delivering on that in government, as well as supporting farmers through Budget initiatives like the sustainable land use package to deliver clean water and sustainable agriculture.

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