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Following an expose of grisly scenes of mudbound cows in Southland due to winter cropping, Greenpeace is expressing frustration at agricultural industry leaders’ failing to take responsibility.
“Federated Farmers head Katie Milne is once again blaming farmers for what is actually a systemic failure in New Zealand’s agriculture – namely the cramming of the land with too many cows,” said Greenpeace NZ senior campaigner Steve Abel.
“These miserable images of cows forced to live in mud are a consequence of a greedy and under regulated dairy industry that has overstocked the land. Dairy industry bosses and a laissez faire attitude from consecutive governments and regional councils is squarely to blame.”
“Whenever people raise these systemic issues, the dairy industry bosses call it an attack on farmers; putting the heat back on farmers instead of taking responsibility for the broken system their industry has made. Farmers are often the meat in the sandwich and Fed Farmers and Dairy NZs scapegoating of individual farmers is unethical and changes nothing.”
The issue was highlighted again today by images of mudbound cows in Southland and Otago released by environmentalist Angus Robson outside the offices of the Ministry for the Environment in Wellington this morning.
“Cows in mud is a consequence of intensive grazing, feedlotting and winter cropping. It is miserable for the animals who are often heavily pregnant. They have to live, sleep and give birth, through the coldest months of winter, often up to their knees in mud and their own excrement.”
“Winter cropping pollutes our freshwater. It concentrates all the urine and effluent from the cows in one muddy paddock so that the animal’s nitrate-rich waste flushes into estuaries, creeks, rivers and groundwater aquifers.
Greenpeace says the real solution is a systemic change in farming and a switch to regenerative agriculture.
“Fewer cows would be better for animal welfare, freshwater health, and the climate. By substantially reducing stock numbers, getting rid of synthetic nitrogen and big irrigation, and most winter cropping, we can see an end to cows in mud. New Zealand needs to shift to regenerative agriculture to have a farming industry fit for the 21st century,” concluded Abel.
Images via Angus Robson can be downloaded here