Food and farming - the problem

Page - October 4, 2016
Industrial dairying has failed. Take your pick of victim - our rivers, water, climate, farmers, reputation -  they’ve all taken a battering.

Industrial dairying requires chemical fertiliser, supplementary feed and lots of water. All these inputs increase our climate emissions, degrade our soil and pollute our rivers (two thirds of which are already at times too polluted to swim in safely).

New Zealand now has the highest rates of waterborne gastro disease in the developed world.

You can read more about the impact of intensive agriculture on human health in our ‘Sick of Too Many Cows’ report, published in June 2017.

Industrial dairy farming also throws our farmers into debt. New Zealand dairy farmers are now collectively burdened with a staggering $38 billion worth of debt.

And the situation’s about to get worse, with large, costly irrigation schemes planned throughout the country. See here for what might be happening near you. These schemes involve taking large volumes of water from rivers to use on dry pasture to allow more cows.

It’s a double whammy for the rivers. Water is taken from them, then returned polluted thanks to cow effluent, urine and eroded soil.

We should be cleaning up and protecting our waterways, not building industrial irrigation schemes that will further degrade them. 

The industrial dairy sector is increasingly relying on irrigation to farm in places that wouldn’t otherwise be viable, such as Canterbury and Hawke’s Bay.

If the Government gets its way, one million hectares of land will be under irrigation by 2025. That’s the equivalent of sixteen Lake Taupo’s. Water pollution will be inevitable as a result.

Who’s paying for these dams?

You! Despite the risks and downsides of large-scale irrigation, the Government is throwing over half a billion taxpayer dollars at it, and local councils are pouring in millions of dollars of ratepayers’ money.  It’s a case of public money being used to help a select few and boost big industrial dairy, while ordinary New Zealanders and our environment pay the price.

To protect our rivers, water and reputation and create sustainable livelihoods for farmers and their families, we need to say no to industrial scale irrigation schemes, propped up with public money.

TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition to stop Government funded river pollution