More than 8000 people have asked for a moratorium on state-owned enterprise Landcorp’s conversion of Waikato forestry land to dairy farms, in a petition presented to Parliament by Green MP Catherine Delahunty today.
“New Zealanders are very concerned about water quality in our country. More than 66% of our rivers aren’t clean enough to swim in, and a big part of the problem is large scale dairy farming. The 8,102 people who signed the petition are saying Landcorp has got to stop converting land to large scale dairy farms and contributing to an already disastrous situation,” said Ms Delahunty.
“On Saturday, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment said she was particularly concerned about the conversions in the Waikato, where Landcorp is converting land for another 29,500 cows, because of the impact it will have on water bodies in the region.
“A recent OECD report highlighted New Zealand’s poor freshwater quality – and this is the country with the clean, green brand. Lake Karapiro, the country’s premier rowing facility, turned pink this summer from algal blooms, which are caused by nutrient pollution.
“The National Government’s continued reliance on dairy as an export commodity is coming at the expense of our rivers, lakes and other waterways. It makes no sense to be converting forested land to intensive dairy farms such as Landcorp is doing. By putting another 29,500 cows on these Landcorp farms, 1.6 million litres of waste will be created, putting waterways at risk of further deterioration.
“Many farmers have signed this petition against Landcorp conversions because they are worried that the measures they are taking to mitigate pollution and manage effluent on their own land will be undone by all the pollution coming down the river from Landcorp.
“The other way in which Landcorp’s conversions are a threat to the environment is through the removal of a valuable carbon sink, which absorbs greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, so where’s the sense in removing a carbon sink and replacing it with a source of greenhouse gas emissions?
“We hope that the National Government will listen to New Zealanders and call a halt to these conversions – as Landcorp is the country’s biggest farmer it has a moral obligation to look after our environment,” Ms Delahunty said.