Landcorp’s brave decision to scale back its dairy intensification programme in the North Island is a victory for the environment and those who have fought to protect the Waikato River, the Green Party said today.
Landcorp has just confirmed earlier reports that it would significantly reduce its plans to convert large tracts of the Wairakei Estate near Taupo to dairy, in favour of less polluting types of farming.
“Landcorp’s decision to not proceed with its intensification programme, in part because of environmental concerns, is a huge victory for the farmers, iwi, fisher people and all those worried about the impact of increasing dairying on the Waikato River,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
The Green Party presented a petition to Parliament last year with more than 8000 signatures calling on Landcorp to abandon its plans to convert thousands of hectares of the Waikato to dairying.
“We congratulate Landcorp for listening, and the next step is for the Government to listen to those who want our rivers protected. Stop pushing for more cows over the environment, and commit to swimmable rivers, rather than merely water that you can dip your toe in.
“More than two thirds of our rivers aren’t clean enough to swim in, and a big part of the problem is large scale dairy farming. By scaling back its plans to put more cows on Waikato land, Landcorp has given our precious waterways a better chance of survival.
“The next step would be to abandon all plans to increase dairying on the Wairakei Estate.
“We’re sure that the price of dairy solids slumping also contributed to Landcorp’s decision. But the Crown entity’s decision today does point to the ability of Government owned organisations to put the environment first, a decision that would be more difficult if Landcorp had been privatised.
“It is to Landcorp's credit that they have woken up to what we really need in this country, which is sensible land use management that protects waterways. It can be done, but massive conversions in the volcanic country was never going to be an environmentally sustainable solution,” said Ms Delahunty.