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


Russel Norman letter to SSC

Publication | March 16, 2018 at 8:59

Greenpeace has asked the State Services Commission to expand its investigation into the use of Thompson and Clark by a government agency to include Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment, after OIA requests revealed the Ministry has also...

OIA Docs for Thompson and Clark MBIE Relationship

Publication | March 16, 2018 at 8:43

Multitudes of documents received under the Official Information Act reveal that the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) has had a close relationship with TCIL for more than four years, and has worked with them to protect the oil...

Licence to Krill

Publication | March 14, 2018 at 7:24

Greenpeace investigations reveal how krill-fishing companies are expanding operations in the fragile Antarctic ocean, putting an entire food web at risk. What’s more, they are often involved in fishing practices that could damage wildlife and...

Open letter to Jacinda Ardern

Publication | March 9, 2018 at 7:47

A group of leading New Zealanders, including scientists, health professionals, unions, and the current New Zealand Poet Laureate, have launched an open letter urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to end oil and gas exploration.

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.

Sick of Too Many Cows

Publication | June 28, 2017 at 11:14

This Greenpeace report examines the potential connections between livestock farming, water pollution and public health.

Annual Impact Report 2016

Publication | June 1, 2017 at 12:16

Click to read or download the PDF below.

Annual Impact Report 2016

Publication | June 1, 2017 at 12:16

Click to read or download the PDF below.

Greenpeace NZ Television - Complaint 16/400

Publication | January 9, 2017 at 8:40

Following a complaint by Dairy NZ to the Advertising Standards Authority about a Greenpeace TV ad, Greenpeace provided the ASA with this 13 page file of scientific evidence pointing to nitrate and pathogen pollution of our waterways as a result...

Sold Down River: How Big Irrigation Will Pollute Our Water

Publication | October 6, 2016 at 21:25

When it comes to clean water, industrial agriculture remains New Zealand’s biggest challenge, and large-scale irrigation schemes planned around the country are set to make things worse.

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