The Green Party is calling for Landcorp to change direction and consider other pastoral uses for Wairakei Estate now that it has been revealed it is not locked into dairy farming the upper Waikato.
Landcorp chief executive Steve Carden told The Dominion Post that the contract Landcorp, a state-owned enterprise, signed with landowners Wairakei Pastoral in 2004 is to convert 26,000ha of the pine forest to “pastoral use”, which could include cropping, beef, sheep, horticulture and forestry.
“Landcorp’s financial results, released this morning, show that the dairy strategy is not working economically with an 84 per cent drop in net operating profit. We know it’s not working environmentally either,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“We’ve been calling for a moratorium on Landcorp’s dairy conversions in the upper Waikato in order to stop the further degradation of the Waikato River and its catchment.
“Any time we have asked the Government about a moratorium on the conversions to dairy, the Government has held up their hands and said they were powerless to break the contract.
“Now that it has been revealed that the land can be used for other forms of farming, Landcorp should heed our call and stop the conversions.
“We’ve asked the Government to show us the contract it has with Wairakei Pastoral, who own the land. We’ve been refused on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, but it’s clear the Government has an agenda to keep ploughing on with dairy, and doesn’t want the public and the 8000 people who joined us in calling for the conversions to stop, to know the real story.
“If Landcorp continues with its current plan, around 1.6m litres of cow waste will enter the Waikato catchment each day from 43,000 cows.
“This will seriously degrade water quality, which the Government is already spending $210 million to clean up. It doesn’t make any sense, economically or environmentally, to persist with unsustainable dairy conversions,” Ms Delahunty said.