Clean Streams sham shows need for dairy shift

Press release - October 2, 2008
The failure of the Clean Streams Accord shows the urgency of a shift to less intensive dairying in New Zealand, says Greenpeace.

The Accord's failure has been outlined in a Forest and Bird/ Fish and Game report out today.

"The intensification of New Zealand's dairy sector is an environmental calamity and also our biggest contributor to global climate change," said Greenpeace Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer, "This report reinforces the need to move to lower input, smarter farming practices that do less damage to the environment and climate."

One of the report's findings is lack of nutrient management on farms. Mr Boxer agreed chemical fertiliser use was out of control on New Zealand dairy farms- ruining waterways and damaging the climate.

"Emissions of nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than CO2 and largely the result of fertiliser use) now account for more than total road transport emissions (1)

"New Zealand farming is suffering from an addiction to chemical fertiliser. If our farmers continue on this path, they're essentially inviting consumers to reject their products."

He said it was an area that could easily be addressed. "Farmers should be using proven low-input systems that use no chemical nitrogen fertiliser; this not only has less of an environmental impact, but also helps improve returns to farmers.

"This was all outlined in a study by AgResearch (2) , which shows that milk produced and delivered per cow per year was highest under the low input system."

"Consumers in key overseas markets are becoming more concerned with where their food comes from and the environmental and climate impact of its production. Agriculture in New Zealand must stay ahead of the game, and to do so, it must improve its environmental performance.

Greenpeace is calling for agriculture to be brought into the emissions trading scheme before 2013, and for New Zealand to set an emissions reduction target of 30 per cent by 2020.

Other contacts: Simon Boxer – Senior Climate Campaigner - 021905579 Kathy Cumming – Communications and media - 021 495 216

Notes: (1) (2) Eco-efficiency of intensification scenarios for milk production in New Zealand, Claudine Basset-Mens, Stewart Ledgard, Mark Boyes, AgResearch Limited, Ecological Economics, In Press 2007.