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WRC gets angry with farmers (yeah right!) (PP 19 April)

For shear bureaucratic humbug, the following extracts from the WRC "Your Waikato" Ten Year Plan hand-out in letter boxes two weeks ago takes some beating:

“Managing land and water is one of the biggest challenges facing Waikato Regional Council. Significant intensification of land use for dairy farming in the Waikato has brought major economic benefits, but has put pressure on soil and water. More intensive farming’s reliance on fertilisers to support higher levels of pasture growth and more cows may contribute to higher nutrient levels in waterways.

Farmers and industry need to understand the environmental effects of farming activities, relevant rules and legal requirements and practical options to comply with the rules. New work proposed includes nutrient management courses for farm management consultants, support for the stock truck euent campaign, and for national nutrient management standards, and an effluent accreditation scheme".      

It is the old story - "education before prosecution". The Regional Council just will not sufficiently exercise the powers they process to markedly alter farmer behaviour. Neither they, nor central government will recognise, or deal with the continuing problems associated with over-stocking, and intensification continues unabated because of the mantra that it is “good for the economy". On the contrary, it is inevitably a long term environmental disaster engendered through greed, and corporate hegemony. And Government rejects the need to impose legislated stocking rates – Nick Smith said as much! Never mind the concurrent resistance to waterway fencing.

Pious claims of love and respect for the land are nothing more than a cynical cover for stuffing in ever higher stock numbers. And meanwhile, Federated Farmers spokes-people harp on endlessly about town discharges being equally to blame - a blatant smokescreen for the continuing defiance amongst many of their members, regardless of ever increasing pay-outs.   

Meanwhile, the farming lobby continues to exercise undue influence at all levels – witness the weakness of Government caving in last week to again delay the extension of the emission trading scheme to farming for a further three years to 2018. And Climate Change Minister Tim Groser’s claim that “practical technologies” are needed before agricultural emissions which make up over half the national total will be included, means that the whole exercise is nothing more than ‘Yes Minister’ subterfuge on a grand scale.  

The concept of “practical technologies” catching up with ever more intensive stocking rates is pure “Alice in Wonderland”. This hypocrisy reflects amnesia and denial that ill behoves us as a nation. Never mind what others are doing – our national conscience and integrity is at stake here as ever more discreditable excuses are proffered for the delay.  When will someone - anyone take leadership on this issue?




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