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Forest & Bird says the Green Party’s Farming for the Future policy, released today, is the kind of economic transformation all political parties should be offering as part of New Zealand’s COVID recovery.

Forest & Bird has been calling for a government and industry led economic recovery that reshapes New Zealand’s primary sector to work for the well-being of both people and the planet, and is pleased the Green Party's agriculture policy provides a pathway for this transformation.

“Reversing New Zealand’s water degradation, species loss, and greenhouse gas emissions will require incentives to encourage leaders, support for the willing, and consequences for laggards, and we are pleased to see the Green Party has a credible plan to do this,” says Forest & Bird spokesperson Geoff Keey. 

“Over the past 20 years, fossil nitrogen fertiliser use has increased 800%. The number of dairy cows has risen 69% to 6.5 million in the last two decades, leading to a rapid increase in nutrients and pathogens entering waterways and groundwater, and unsustainable irrigation in naturally dry places like Canterbury, and the Mackenzie Country.

“The environmental impact of agriculture is now a major threat to New Zealand’s reputation for quality products.  People are getting sick from waterborne disease, nitrate levels in some areas are making water undrinkable, and we are on the verge of losing treasured native species.  This has got to change.”

Nature in New Zealand has been pushed to breaking point by intensified industrial agriculture. Most of New Zealand’s lowland rivers are unsafe for swimming, nearly half of monitored lakes contain more nutrients than they can cope with, and three-quarters of our native freshwater fish species are heading for extinction. To make matters worse the last remaining 10% of our wetlands is still at risk of being destroyed, and lowland ecosystems have been wiped out across most of the country.

“The high-input, high-debt agricultural model promoted over the last 20 years has locked our farming communities into environmentally destructive and financially risky business models. Whoever makes up the next Government must offer a way out of this race for the bottom, and reward truly sustainable practices while discouraging polluting, destructive ones,” says Mr Keey. 

“The Primary Sector Council’s vision Fit for a Better World shows that some farming leaders are ready to make the changes needed.  Forest & Bird looks forward to all political parties offering the policies New Zealand's primary sectors need to achieve this vision.”

Note: Forest & Bird has written to all political parties urging them to adopt Forest & Bird’s Policies for Recovery.  These policies can be found here.

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