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Guy Deviates From The Party Line!

Wonders will never cease – Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has at last recognised that there is a limit to the numbers of cows that this country can absorb without destroying the environment. Never mind immigration – simple bovine reproduction will bring this about..

It is remarkable how an election year concentrates the mind of our intrepid ministers who normally will resist the temptation to say anything that may be construed as criticism of the farming industry in any way, shape, or form.

The NZH story yesterday points out that:

“The latest agricultural statistics for 2016 show New Zealand had 6.5 million dairy cattle, up from just 2.9 million four decades ago. Dairy products are the country's largest commodity export worth $11.3 billion in the year through February, and the government aims to double the value of primary sector exports to $64 billion by 2025 from $32 billion in 2012.

However, a recent string of reports has singled out dairy intensification as the key factor, alongside urbanisation, putting pressure on the country's environment, valued for its pristine natural wilderness.

“It will be challenging for the dairy industry to grow," Guy said. "There's no way that we can double the number of cows in New Zealand. One big opportunity the dairy industry does have is about increasing the value, not the volume." (My bold)

So with that undoubtedly calculated statement, the Primary Industry Minister has put the kybosh on the Governments long standing dictum to double primary industry exports, including dairy, by 2025. One would have thought that this fundamental change would have come from the Prime Minister, but he was still defending dairying in the face the Fresh Water Report referred to below on the previous day.

The three reports of Peter Gluckman, Jan Wright and now the Fresh Water Report produced this week  under the Environmental Reporting Act have each underlined the problem in such a way that the Government can no longer blithely ignore the bleeding obvious and continue to attempt to draw equivalence with the dragging of the urban wastewater chain – surely a problem, but not in the same league as that created by simple rural greed.

The current equally intensive, and faintly bucolic Fonterra TV propaganda campaign may have some success in convincing a dubious public that dairying is doing everything in its power to deal with the problem, but it is undeniable that the underlying issues surrounding  intensification are avoided at all costs.

How it is that all rural commentators, and in particular those representing the Feds, can avoid this question every time they come on to claim such huge progress in farming practices, and fencing. Their responses are repetitive and driven by the imperatives of an orchestrated public relations campaign aimed secondarily at painting Massey environmental scientist Mike Joy as the devil incarnate.  

Even National’s intense polling must be telling the Party that it cannot avoid the water issue any longer. It may not be a ‘one issue’ election, but it will come very close to that, with Winston beating the anti-immigration drum in the background. This does not auger well for National, and a Labour/Greens combination is beginning to sound more and more feasible. regardless of which way Winnie jumps.

Water, water, water – my soul for a glass of (clean) water.  




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