A Government report just out, seems to suggest that Fonterra’s flashy PR campaign to promote intensive dairy might be failing.
The survey by the Ministry for Primary Industries shows that only half of Kiwis view NZ’s dairy industry in a positive light – due in large part to its bad environmental record and role in freshwater pollution. (1)
Greenpeace says this research should serve as a major wake-up call for Fonterra.
The country’s largest corporate has spent huge amounts on its public image in recent times, including expensive advertisements with ex All Black, Richie McCaw.
“Despite Fonterra’s countless TV ads and PR efforts, New Zealanders patience with intensive dairying is wearing thin,” says Sustainable Agriculture campaigner Gen Toop.
“The only way for Fonterra to restore its tarnished image is to stop spinning and actually clean up their act. They have to deal to the tide of pollution getting into NZ’s rivers and lakes from too many cows.”
The report shows that in 2017, only 50% of rural respondents and 47% of urban respondents held positive views towards dairy farming.
In 2009, in the same survey, 83% of rural NZ’ers and 78% of urban NZ’ers held a positive view of farming as a whole.
-Horticulture and sheep and beef farming were viewed the most positively out of the primary sector industries. New Zealanders positive views towards horticulture had increased 6% in rural NZ and 11% in urban NZ.
The main reasons cited for negative views of the dairy industry are it’s bad environmental record and freshwater pollution.
One of the quotes from respondents read; “We should be competing on our clean, green image and producing products that have higher value than just milk powder. – Rural Whangarei male.
“Alongside it’s flashy TV ads, Fonterra points proudly to its fencing efforts. But fences don’t stop nitrogen rich cow urine leaching into our waterways.” says Toop.”It’s like trying to keep the rain out of your house by roofing with chicken wire.””
Also, Fonterra’s fencing efforts only apply to rivers and streams wider than one metre despite research proving that small streams need attention too.
“A recent scientific report, led by the principal scientist for AgResearch-Invermay’s Environment Group, found that more than three quarters of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution flowing into our freshwater catchments comes through small streams that currently aren’t required to be fenced off. (2)
“If Fonterra wants to retain any shred of public confidence in New Zealand then it needs to stop bleating about fences and commit to fewer cows. That’s the only thing that will save our rivers.”
In 2008 the question was asked about ‘farming’ in general – this was split into two specific questions in 2017 that asked directly about ‘sheep and beef’ and ‘dairy’ farming.