Dairy conversion near Taupo (C) GREENPEACE
While our teams in Taupo did some extreme gardening
, I went to the Landcorp headquarters in Wellington to deliver a letter outlining Landcorp's contribution to climate change and demanding that Landcorp halt its expansion plans for the dairy sector and instead lead the way in sustainable land use practices.
I arrived at the HQ on Allen Street and asked to speak to the Chief Executive, who came out very quickly to meet me. Perhaps they were worried I'd lock myself on to something!
I gave him the letter and then we had a great little debate. It went something like this ...
They don't own the land and therefore they have no say over what it's used for.
(I pointed out that they lease it and do make the decisions about what it's used for - in fact they're playing a central role in the deforestation and conversion to dairy)
If they didn't do the conversion someone else would, and would do it in a much less sustainable way.
(I pointed out that this is no moral argument and that it's like saying that if you don't give a kid soft drugs someone else will give them hard drugs)
The agriculture sector sustains the NZ economy.
(I said this isn't an attack on farming but rather the policies that drive unsustainable farming practices, that if we want a sustainable economy it can't be a high emissions economy in a low emissions world, and that there are significant trade opportunities in defending our clean, green brand)
The dairy sector doesn't rely on niche markets at all - only 5% of produce goes to niche markets in Europe and North America and the rest goes to Asia and developing countries.
(I said that the sector will go bust if we try to compete on price with developing countries and that the only way to sustain the NZ agricultural sector is to produce quality, sustainable produce. Anyway far more than 5% of our produce goes to Europe and North America, where consumers are increasingly demanding environmentally sound produce)
He respects our right to protest.
(I said we're going to continue)
He wants to arrange a meeting with Greenpeace.
(I walked away pleased that the CEO of the largest farming enterprise in New Zealand realises he's on notice and that it's not the last he'll hear from us)
Not quite as invigorating as planting thousands of trees; but interesting nonetheless!