Forest & Bird urges Fed Farmers to unite

Forest & Bird is strongly urging Federated Farmers around New Zealand to get in behind their Waikato branch which has called for a debate on a moratorium for further dairy conversions.

Forest & Bird’s Group Manager Campaigns and Advocacy, Kevin Hackwell, says it’s a milestone in conservation when a national farming body takes the initiative in actively managing pollution in our waterways by considering a halt to further intensification of dairying on an already stressed resource.

Forest & Bird and Federated Farmers are both members of the Land and Water Forum (a group of more than 60 organisations and stakeholders) which first came together in 2009 to find an agreed way forward to manage water in New Zealand.

The Land and Water Forum has recommended potential reform of New Zealand’s fresh water management, and one of the suggestions put forward by the forum was the use of moratoria on further land development in areas where the nutrient limit in waterways is approaching or “has already exceeded” set limits.

“The stance taken by Waikato Federated farmers is sensible – all they’re asking is for some headroom to get the pollution limits down below the maximum limit before any more dairy conversions are allowed. They’re asking for a pause, to give the river and land time to catch its breath and recover.”

Kevin Hackwell says what’s happening now in Waikato is symptomatic of what’s going on around the rest of the country – we’re about to exceed, or have already exceeded the limits for nitrogen in many of our rivers.

Kevin Hackwell says Waikato is following the same path as regions such as Canterbury – an area which is under enormous pressure from irrigation for intensive dairying - and where there are disputes and disagreements over water quality and quantity issues.

“New Zealanders have told us very clearly that they do not want economic progress to occur at any cost to the environment,” said Kevin Hackwell, “and we applaud Waikato Federated Farmers for proposing a sensible and sustainable course of action that will provide the space to sort out the problem. Let’s hope all the other branches of Federated Farmers follow suit.”