Intensive dairying is causing an environmental catastrophe – even without considering the use of poisons

A report into dairying shows how the environment is being milked by the industry for all it’s worth - and that’s before taking the use of herbicides and pesticides into account, the Green Party said today.

The report released by Massey University this week shows that dairy intensification over the last 20 years has seen waterways become heavily polluted, greenhouse gas emissions increase, and biodiversity loss, among other negative impacts, and argues that the cost of cleaning up the environment may be higher than the economic benefit from dairy exports.

“Many of the environmental problems caused by dairy farming are around the high number of cows per hectare. More cows means more effluent going into waterways, more fertiliser needed that may damage the soil and increase pollution, and more greenhouse gas emissions,” said Green Party agriculture spokesperson Steffan Browning.

“These all have a big impact on human and animal health, and damage New Zealand’s clean green image. One area the report has not addressed is the use of herbicides and pesticides that other papers confirm have an impact on soil, animal and human health.

“With milk prices falling due to oversupply and softening demand, it makes no sense to be chasing these diminishing export dollars by continually harming the environment beyond its capacity to absorb the impacts.  

“Less intensive organic farming methods would increase the returns for farmers and mitigate the damage done to the environment; yet organic milk production is only 0.3% of Fonterra’s milk volume.

“Last month, Fonterra announced a 45 cent per kg of milk solids increase for organic milk.

“More investment by the Government in this area would help farmers and the environment, and maintain New Zealand’s  clean, green image – a brand we rely on to sell our goods overseas,” Mr Browning said.

 

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