A Ministry for the Environment report released today shows the widespread scale of destruction caused by intensive dairying, says Greenpeace.

The report, Our Land 2021, details the decline of soil and freshwater health, and examines the climate and health impacts of industrial farming activities. 

Greenpeace campaigner Amanda Larsson says the report only affirms what many New Zealanders can see happening around them, as rivers grow sludgy with algae and cows stand knee-deep in mud.

“Most New Zealanders want clean water to drink, clear rivers to swim in, land that is healthy and brimming with wildlife. And they expect the Government to do what is necessary to protect our health and natural heritage,” says Larsson. 

“But this report lays bare that the Government hasn’t been doing its job. It’s telling us that nature is in crisis, thanks to intensive dairying and a Government too timid to bring in proper rules to limit pollution from the dairy industry.”

Larsson says the report reads like a laundry list of the devastating environmental impacts of intensive dairying: from degraded soils barely able to support New Zealand’s 6.5 million cows, to plumes of greenhouse gases from those cows, to nitrate-nitrogen pollution washing off farms into drinking water. 

“We’re all paying the price in terms of our health and that of future generations. The Ministry for the Environment’s report today should be a kick in the pants for our Government to face up to the consequences of their lax approach to the dairy industry, and start turning things around,” says Larsson.

“That means phasing out the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, limiting cow numbers to what the land can handle and supporting farmers to make the shift to regenerative and organic farming.”

The report showed that intensive management of soil, including practices found on dairy farms, has negative effects on soil biodiversity. 

“Soil health is critical to our health and the health of the climate. Degraded soil is less able to absorb carbon, and less resilient to shocks from droughts and floods,” says Larsson. 

“Not only is intensive dairying New Zealand’s biggest climate polluter, it’s hampering our ability to respond to the climate crisis as it happens.”

Regenerative farming places a priority on building soil health through reducing inputs like synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, planting diverse crops, using rotational grazing systems and reducing soil tillage.

“We know that there are hundreds of farmers across the country already adopting methods that build soil health and create thriving ecosystems. With proper Government backing and the support of their communities, many more farmers could shift to regenerative organic farming. 

“Imagine a New Zealand where farming can clean up our rivers, tackle the climate crisis and make sure every Kiwi has fresh, healthy food. That’s what real ambition looks like – not endlessly churning out low-value milk powder while wrecking the land and water.” 


PETITION: Support a shift to regenerative farming

Call on Christopher Luxon to set up a billion dollar fund to transition New Zealand away from industrial to regenerative agriculture.

Take Action