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Dairy Industry Has Its Damascus Moment

The sight of a gaggle of dairy industry leaders walking along a Hawkes Bay riverbed that looks suspiciously like the one in the South Island  that belongs to our Chief Justice on which cows were sprung by Fish & Game last year brings to mind one of the great Road to Damascus moments in our recent history. Or is it?

Fonterra's John Wilson, and Carolyn Mortland, Feds president Katie Milne, along past president Bruce Wills, Mike Peterson, Michael Spaans, John Loughlin and James Parsons brought us this good news yesterday to the effect that:

"80% of the industry have pledgeed to make all NZ rivers swimmable."

Unfortunately, they were unable to provide a date as to when this may happen.  The group, all looking suitably 'rural':

"Confessed that not all rivers were in the condition they wanted them to be and that farming (not famers!) had not always got it right."

Golly, that is a relief - we can now all look forward to a concerted effort by all the people they represent to turn the tide, and "get it right"!

Forgive my cynicism, but after years of denial, it should come as no surprise that this will be the reaction of the majority of those of us who have been trying to blow the whistle on these guys for years, to no avail, especially when their rationale is now said to be the fact that:

"We want the rivers to be swimmable by our children." 

Now it would not have anything to do with the election, would it?

They have clearly been 'stepped on' by their National mates who have suddenly come to the realisation (their polling in other words) that water WILL be a major issue in this election, and could well be the rock upon which the party founders because of their (Nick Smith in particular) inaction in the past, and lack of vision for the future. And Labour's irrigation charge has 'put a cat amongst the pigeons.' Expect plenty of similar 'events' as 23 September approaches.

Labour have certainly upped their game in this regard, and adopted most of the Green's policy to the delight of those of us who have sunk into the depths of despair over Nationals' utter complacency in this regard.

Eugenie Sage is right to insist on reduced cow numbers, and commitments to dates and measures before taking the group's statements seriously.

Katie Milne, the Feds new president stated:

"Today isn't the day for laying out the details on the huge amount of work going on already on farms up and down the country, and how these efforts will need to increase.

There is no timeline on the commitment because each community would need to decide that for themselves"

And with that, the commitment falls flat on its face - the old arrogance returns, and the intent that the industry continue to pull the wool over the eyes of the entire country while "business as usual" continues is clear for all to see.

Just who these leaders believe they are fooling with these empty assurances remains the big question? Why they would go to the trouble of setting up a interview and photo opportunity begs the question over and over - why? why? why? Is it just to improve the image of the Feds, Fonterra, or Katie Milne - a West Coast dairy farmer who has risen steadily up the ranks in the time honoured fashion.

I give them no credit whatsoever for this classic piece of public relations spin - and I feel no satisfaction in saying this. There is only one way to reduce polution in the form of nitrates in particular, and that is to reduce cow numbers, and even then it will take ten years for any noticeable effect to occur.

Canterbury and Waikato farmers should already be looking at alternative forms of income, and we, the downstream beneficiaries should be thinking about just how the reduction in GNP will effect us as individuals.

It is that serious!




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