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


Election 2017 ENGO Letter to political leadership

Publication | October 1, 2017 at 11:39

A ‘supergroup’ of New Zealand environmental organisations has sent an open letter to the leaders of key political party leaders as they prepare to negotiate a coalition for the next Government.

The superhero two year old who represents thousands affected by the air pollution crisis

Blog entry by India Thorogood | September 26, 2017

“It was really distressing to see her working so hard to breathe. She’s so small.” It’s a parents’ worst nightmare to see their child being rushed in and out of hospital. Yet Sephie’s parents - Bo and Amii - have all too often seen...

The beginning of the end for nuclear weapons

Blog entry by Jen Maman | September 21, 2017

"I have been waiting for this day for seven decades and I am overjoyed that it has finally arrived,” said Hiroshima survivor Setsuko Thurlow in July, when a new treaty banning nuclear weapons was agreed at the United Nations in New...

Chevron's Amazon Chernobyl Case moves to Canada

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | September 19, 2017

After perpetrating what is probably the worst oil-related catastrophe on Earth - a 20,000 hectare death zone in Ecuador, known as the “Amazon Chernobyl” - the Chevron Corporation has spent two decades and over a billion dollars trying...

5 reasons the car industry needs to change its ways now

Blog entry by Richard Casson | September 19, 2017

Today the world’s biggest motor show gets underway in Germany. The Frankfurt Motorshow is the moment many of the world’s best known car manufacturers get together for a grand display of vehicles that have been polished so hard it’s a...

FAQ for September 14th Peaceful Disobedience

Blog entry by Andrew Tobert | September 13, 2017

If you’ve got loads of burning questions and want to know more then come along to the briefing on Wednesday, September 13th at Halo, 66B Wharenui Road.  Make sure you’re registered to get updates. How long do I have to stay?

Save Our Rivers: Peaceful Civil Disobedience

Blog entry by Andrew Tobert | September 13, 2017

Construction has started on huge irrigation schemes in Canterbury. When they start working, it’s going to be disastrous for our rivers - most of which are already struggling. More irrigation means more cows and that means more...

Thursday, September 7: Occupying Central Plains Water

Blog entry by Andrew Tobert | September 12, 2017

The day started early, or late, depending on your perspective. We met the night before in Christchurch. People had travelled from across New Zealand at a moment’s notice - one group had even driven from Dunedin. The energy was high.

We shall not be moved

Blog entry by Marianna Hoszowska | September 7, 2017

This week, a courageous group of activists from across Europe are joining Greenpeace Poland to stop illegal logging in the ancient   Białowieża  Forest. Dozens of people have been chaining themselves to trees and logging machinery...

Lightning Occupation of Central Plains Water

Blog entry by Genevieve Toop | September 7, 2017

We had to go for it. At the crack of dawn today, a team of our activists began an occupation of the Central Plains Water (CPW) irrigation dam. If you want to join us - we’re on Coxs Road, Springfield. Time is of the essence, and...

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