Food and farming

These things are fundamental to who we are, what we do and how New Zealand makes its way in the world. But there are big problems with the way we’re farming. The industrial farming model prevalent in New Zealand is damaging our land, water, climate and farmers.

New Zealand farming made a name for itself based on two simple five-letter words – clean and green - with our products setting us apart in shopping trolleys and baskets across the globe. But somewhere along the way we lost our bearings.  

Family farms got snapped up and subsumed into industrial-scale dairying operations. We began clear-felling forests to make way for industrial dairy farms, piling fertilizers onto the land; squeezing too many cows onto every hectare, and feeding them supplementary feed from destroyed Indonesian rainforests. All this to sell faceless milk powder on volatile global commodity markets.

This industrial, high input model has cost our rivers (two thirds are already at times too polluted to swim in safely) our water (New Zealand now has the highest rates of waterborne gastro disease in the developed world), our climate (agriculture emissions make up half New Zealand’s emissions and continue to rise) and our farmers. New Zealand dairy farmers are collectively burdened with $38 billion worth of debt, putting unimaginable pressure on individuals, families and communities.

And things are set to get worse, with large-scale irrigation schemes planned across the country. People don’t necessarily make the link between irrigation and industrial farming. But the one leads directly to the other.  The reason big irrigation companies want to take water from our rivers is to enable more industrial agriculture (namely dairying) where it wouldn’t otherwise have occurred. Irrigation schemes are a golden ticket to more dairying and more water pollution.
 
The industrial dairying model is a failed experiment. Change is needed if New Zealand farming and farmers are to prosper again. We need to make New Zealand farming something we can be proud of again.

The latest updates

 

Taitu and a long history of protest in boats

Blog entry by Nick Young | April 3, 2017

After confronting Statoil and Chevron seismic blasting 50 nautical miles off the Wairarapa coast in small inflatable boats, we put out a call to New Zealanders to help us buy a bigger boat. The response was phenomenal. Within seven...

Cut the cows - a double whammy for the environment

Blog entry by pvine | March 27, 2017

It’s often said that domestic opinion doesn’t count for much in this country. Watch though, as heads turn and lattes spill when that same opinion comes from across the water. It’s our endearing lack of self confidence and charming...

Help name our new boat

Blog entry by Nick Young | March 16, 2017

Wow - we did it! Together, we’ve bought ‘The People's Boat’. Almost 1,000 people chipped in and together we have bought the boat that’s going to confront the Amazon Warrior - AKA, The Beast. Now we need you to give it a name. It’s...

Our oceans, our responsibility

Blog entry by Mike Fincken | March 2, 2017

For some people the oceans may seem vast - to me they are my garden and my home. For the last three decades I have spent most of my life as a sailor and a captain. So you can imagine I feel a special tie to our blue planet. The many...

Is Nick Smith Minister for Magic?

Blog entry by Gen Toop | February 27, 2017

It seems the critical issue of clean swimmable water for New Zealanders has passed into the realms of magical realism. Minister for Magic, Nick Smith waved his blue wand and wadeable rivers miraculously turned into ones you can swim...

Don't get freaked by the eco

Blog entry by Phil Vine | February 25, 2017

Funny how, over time, crazy weird becomes the new normal. There were certainly some nutty ideas floating around when I was a young fella studying Agricultural Economics at Lincoln University last millennium. Outlandish thoughts like...

HSBC promises to cut ties with forest-trashing palm oil companies

Blog entry by Annisa Rahmawati | February 22, 2017

There's been a major breakthrough in protecting Indonesia's forests: HSBC has committed to  breaking its links to palm oil companies destroying forests and peatlands. This is a fantastic  result for everyone who has been campaigning...

We are going to court!

Blog entry by Michelle Jonker-Argueta | February 21, 2017

It's time we hold governments accountable for their climate promises; we must protect the pristine Arctic - it's critical for the preservation of our planet for future generations. That’s why we’re taking Arctic oil to court. ...

Missing the Target

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | February 21, 2017

The urgency to solve our climate crisis feels something like a ship heading off course: The longer you delay, the more you have to turn the wheel.   Consider these numbers: 2, 350, 1990. These were the original climate goals. In...

A view from Waitangi by Mike Smith

Blog entry by Mike Smith | February 3, 2017

Over the last couple of days I’ve been getting calls from friends, colleagues and media organisations wanting to know what was happening at Waitangi this year. Here’s what I’ve been telling them.   Depending on your point of...

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