Last Saturday, my colleague Eugenie Sage took me for a drive across the Canterbury Plains. I had seen from the air the landuse changes across the plains in recent times; a patchwork of crops and stock raising has been transformed into a green desert. Driving through, the treeless expanses are vast. The paddocks are dominated […]
This week’s reported comments by Fonterra chair John Wilson that dairy “volumes were only going to keep increasing” are troubling. Mr Wilson was supporting a potential renegotiation of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Under the FTA dairy products such as whole milk powder attract higher tariffs when volume thresholds are reached, often early in […]
This week, Fonterra’s application to expand its milk-drying factory and burn more coal at Studholme, in South Canterbury, is being put to the test. The local council is considering the application and hearing from people who’ve asked to make submissions. It might come as a surprise to many people that Fonterra is one of New […]
It was interesting in Parliament this week, listening to the Prime Minister repeatedly say “I don’t know” to straightforward questions from Green co-leader James Shaw about the effect the dairy downturn will have on farmers, small businesses and rural retailers dependent on a good price on milk solids for their prosperity. In fact, his admission […]
It was good news to hear recently that Fonterra has begun to recognise the potential brand damage from dairy farmers moving away from grass-based milk production to rely on unsustainable supplementary feeds such as Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE). Fonterra are establishing and issuing voluntary guidelines about PKE for farmers to maintain the competitive advantage that […]
Yesterday, I called for a complete ban on herbicide-tolerant (HT) swedes, which have been implicated in the deaths of hundreds of cows, and compensation for stressed out farmers who have lost stock. HT swedes have been developed using a technology very similar to genetic engineering so that they can be sprayed with chlorsulfuron, a herbicide […]
The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE) released two reports on freshwater quality and management last Friday. The water quality report shows that dairy conversions are hurting water quality and says that despite great efforts with fencing and planting, large increases in cow numbers are resulting in excess nitrogen and thus pollution in water ways. […]
This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It was a powerful experience to start my Waikato tour at a local meeting of worried people […]
Right now there is a perfect storm for some farmers, but no rain. Drought and commodity prices are hitting hard and creating stress. This is not a new experience, but if drought in particular becomes the new normal, pressure on water resources will increase. It is a challenge to everyone but particularly in Canterbury and […]
Last Wednesday, I went on a tour of some of Northland’s rivers with Millan Ruka from Environmental River Patrol as he monitored water quality throughout Te Tai Tokerau. The dry conditions meant we couldn’t use the boat but we visited a lot of waterways, and it was an amazing drive through beautiful rural countryside. What […]
Last week, another dairy farmer, this time in Taranaki, was fined $66,000 for recidivist water pollution when he discharged cow effluent into groundwater and a stream. The judge said the farmer’s offending was “wilful, blind and his attitude was negligent in the extreme”. Despite Federated Farmers saying this was terribly unusual, this farmer is not […]
At the moment when New Zealand is the focus of international attention over Fonterra’s botulism scare, the National Party seems intent on sabotaging our economy and environment by weakening our environmental laws attacking the Resource Management Act (RMA). National’s changes will make the RMA an economic development act at the expense of nature and local […]
Yesterday was the UN International Day for Biological Diversity. The theme for this year was Water and Biodiversity. In New Zealand our native freshwater species are extremely vulnerable. Our longfin eels are on a pathway to extinction yet are still being caught commercially. Other freshwater species have no or little protection compared to our terrestrial […]
Fonterra has just announced that it is renewing organic milk supply contracts in Manawatu, Taranaki, and Wairarapa for two years and three years for Waikato and Bay of Plenty farmers, but dropping Northland contracts as they come up for renewal. Manawatu, Taranaki and Wairarapa farmers had been told in 2011 that their contracts were not […]
Taranaki’s Waitara River ranked dead last on the Ministry for the Environment recreational river water quality league table. So it was an obvious candidate for our Dirty Water Tour, highlighting community initiatives to clean up our rivers, lakes and estuaries.
The GE-free movement in Parliament seems to be growing. I was very happy to read the comments of Labour’s Damien O’Connor in November’s NZ Dairy Exporter. I was interviewed by the magazine about the GE milk in New Zealand, I emphasised our position that we need to protect our clean green image and our $10 […]
The Straight Furrow is reporting today that Cargill are marketing cotton seed meal from Australia as a good feed for our dairy herds. We have real concerns that this cotton seed is genetically engineered. Feeding GE to our dairy herds, along with the environmentally damaging palm kernel, is a real risk to our 100% pure […]
Soil and Health pose an interesting argument about why Fonterra is trying to cripple the organic dairy industry. Fonterra’s Gutting Of Organic Dairying Is The Next Step To GE Farms. Fonterra has taken its next step towards genetically engineered pastures, with its announced scaling back of organic production by half, according to the Soil & […]
Some straight talking from Michael Coote in an NBR (July 1st) article about the Indian economy. Noting the government’s enthusiasm for a free trade agreement with India, Coote writes that : “The D-word – dairy – cited by Mr Key in in linking together the wonders of free trade with China and India should give […]
Invasive trout blamed for poor water quality — are farmers off the hook? Press Release by Science Media Centre at 6:49 am, 05 Jul 2011 Scientists are questioning claims by a prominent dairy industry representative, suggesting trout are a ‘disastrous species’ — no better than ‘freshwater stoats’ — and that farmers have been unfairly blamed […]
Russel is rafting and kayaking down some of our most polluted lowland rivers this summer, as a fun and unusual way to draw attention to the water pollution problems in our own backyard. Click here for detailed reports and photos from each trip. Plus check out media coverage of Russel on the Manawatu, the Hutt, […]
This is how we present our butter to the world: “Only our cows are free to roam all day long. Anchor – the free range butter company”. And this is cubicle factory dairy production – the battery cow. Or this: Cognitive dissonance anyone?
Have you ever felt that after a long day inside a building you just have to get out and feel the sun and breathe some air? I guess not being able to do that is one of the punishments the prison system imposes on offenders. But even they get an hour or so out in […]
“Agricultural intensification over the past 10 years has led to the highest rate of native vegetation loss since European colonisation.” Landcare Research Annual Report
Cool. Today a new campaign has been launched for one of New Zealand’s most iconic features – our Wild Rivers. It’s great to see diverse groups – tree-huggers, deer-stalkers, bird-watchers, knobbly-kneed trampers, sharp-edged climbers, risky rafters, kool-kat kayakers, and angelic anglers – representing “over 100,000 New Zealanders” and united in seeking to protect wild rivers […]
Yep, it’s the Crafar boys again. From interest.co.nz: Poor management and the pressures of massive debts obtained during rapid expansion meant this farm was so poorly managed that none of the staff trained the calves to drink milk, allowing them to die of dehydration in a muddy pen even though their trough was often full. […]
For the first six months of this year, wilding pine control cost DOC $811,000 in carbon liabilities – a large amount for a department that has already had its budget for this year cut by $13.5 million. That money could have saved some endangered species, increased the area of land under pest control, or – got rid of more wilding pines.
The Dompost on Saturday reported that a debate about landuse and water quality is deepening in the Hawkes Bay. The Mohaka River has a Water Conservation Order on it. However its quality is declining. One tributary comes from the volcanic plateau where land has been converted from forests to industrial-sized dairy farms.
Fonterra has more than just its financial restructure head-ache to mull on this weekend. Its dogged support for rainforest-destroying palm kernel feed (PKE) must now be giving them a cracking migraine.
Sometimes something really good happens. The World Bank has withdrawn funding for the palm oil sector including the Wilmar company that supplies [PDF] palm kernel to Fonterra. The World Bank is not satisfied that the palm plantations they loaned to in parts of the developing world met acceptable standards for sustainability. Congratulations to the Forest […]
The Fishing News reported last year that: The Mohaka River has to be the jewel in the crown of Hawkes Bay trout fisheries, yet the upper reaches of this magnificent river are in decline due mainly to intense dairy farming and the subsequent effluent run-off. One of its tributaries is the Taharua River, into which […]
Some great listening and viewing this morning on NZ environmental issues. Podcasts and on-demand TV means those who slept in haven’t missed out – so enjoy. RadioNZ’s Insight doco at 8am was on carbon offsetting. Reporter Ian Telfer narrated a well-rounded look at the benefits and risks inherent in the largely-unregulated voluntary carbon market. Includes […]
Federated Farmers seemed a tad defensive yesterday. Their press release “Environmentalists ‘silence deafening’ on dirty cities” said: Federated Farmers believes the hypocrisy of environmental lobbyists has been revealed by their silence on urban pollution. “Yesterday, farmers learned that raw sewerage and heavy metals are being pumped into Wellington Harbour. But environmentalists like ‘hook and bullet’ […]
Here’s one that left me speechless with incredulity… Fed Farmers Dairy chairman Lachlan McKenzie addressed the organisation’s AGM yesterday and made some quite ridiculous and irresponsible comments on the progress that farmers have made in cleaning up waterways. This time last year, Fish and Game New Zealand was calling on the government to regulate production […]
In the 2005 cooperation agreement between the Green Party and the previous Labour-led government, we negotiated funding for an Organics Advisory Service (OAS). It included mentoring support for conversion to organics and peer support for organic farmers. Unfortunately, after three years of successful service to the organics sector, the modest $2.15 million funding has now […]
Yesterday, Kevin Hague MP blogged on the voluntary efforts to improve water quality and water-way ecology in the Aorere catchment. And, the Greens continue to promote a Green New Deal stimulus measure to spread fencing and planting across the country, to create jobs and restore waterways at the same time. Today, the National Institute of […]
On Friday I had the opportunity to attend a celebration of the Aorere Catchment Project in Golden Bay. When I had been presenting the Green New Deal in Takaka several local people had mentioned the project to me in tones of pride, so I jumped at the chance to attend the celebration.
Two important studies revealing the state of our freshwater came out last week, and the news is disappointing. The first comes from NIWA, and updates water quality trends at the 77 National River Water Quality Network sites, which have been monitored over the last 20 years. The study confirmed that waterways flowing through farmland have […]
Just over a week ago, the High Court ruled that ERMA breached the law in accepting applications from AgResearch to import and experiment on a range of genetically modified animals. I described the application at the time it was lodged as: A huge application to genetically engineer a wide range of animals, plus human and […]
Hawke’s Bay has come up with a solution to one of the main sources of pollution in the scenic and popular Tukituki River. Two months ago I highlighted some photos of Tukituki algae blooms on the Baybuzz blog, noting that: The slime is associated with low flows due to over-allocation of the water during summer drought flows, […]