The Green Party is calling on Government-owned Landcorp to take a break from converting swathes of land into dairy farms that will make more waterways too polluted to swim in.
The call follows comments by Federated Farmers’ Waikato president Chris Lewis, in which he said a moratorium on dairy conversion in the Waikato, where the number of dairy cows has increased by 56 per cent since 1990, was necessary to assess the environmental impact of dairying.
“Government owned Landcorp poses a huge environmental threat with their dairy conversion plans. We urge Landcorp to listen to Federated Farmers and back the moratorium,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.
“By 2020 Landcorp plan to put 27,000 more cows on converted land in the Waikato. This is a Government-sanctioned environmental disaster in the making.
“The Government is already spending $210 million cleaning up the Waikato River from pollution caused by dairying. It doesn’t make sense for them to make that problem worse by further dairy conversions.
“The Government and Landcorp should do the right thing by our environment and support a moratorium on dairy conversions. There’s only so much the environment can take, and we believe we’re at that point.
“More than 60 per cent of our rivers are unsafe to swim in, and a large part of that is down to the dairy industry and large scale conversions.
“More conversions undermines the work many farmers are doing in managing the effluent from their farms, planting riparian strips and keeping the number of cows on their farms at sustainable levels.
“Converting swathes of countryside, as is happening in the Central Plateau, to intensive dairying makes a mockery of the work done by responsible farmers to reduce the impact of dairying on the environment.”
Note: The number of dairy cows on New Zealand farms has risen by 85 per cent since 1990; from 3,440,815 to 6,378,248. The regions with the largest increases are Canterbury, Waikato, Southland, Otago and Hawke’s Bay.