Fish & Game applauds Landcorp environmental lead

  • 8/03/2016

Fish & Game has applauded the decision by the country’s largest farming company to significantly scale back its plans to turn forests near Taupo into dairy farms.

The Government-owned farming company Landcorp has just announced it will drop its plan to convert thousands of hectares of forest north of Taupo into intensive dairy farms because of concerns about the impact the conversions will have on the environment.

Landcorp believes the change will reduce the risk of phosphate and sediment loss and bacterial contamination, along with a significant drop in nitrogen leaching from pasture.

It also expects to significantly improve profitability as a consequence.

Fish & Game is congratulating Landcorp for the decision, saying it is an environmentally responsible and future-focussed move.

Fish & Game chief executive Bryce Johnson says Landcorp is providing the dairy industry with the sort of leadership that needs to cascade across the rest of the sector.

“We are delighted with Landcorp’s move. They have heeded the increasingly vocal public concern, listened to and analysed the scientific and economic evidence, and come to the conclusion there is a better way to farm this land which respects the wider public expectation of clean water.

“The reality is that the big jump in the number of dairy farms is putting increasingly unsustainable pressure on the environment.

“In the last five years in the Waikato alone, new dairy farms have seen an extra quarter of a million cows added to the region’s pastures and that’s degrading our waterways,” says Mr Johnson.

Bryce Johnson believes Landcorp’s move may well be the circuit breaker agriculture needs to change its present outdated farming practices which he says are increasingly out of step with consumers and the public.

“The current model isn’t working and is accentuated by the crash in dairy pay-outs. It is time that the industry admitted “enough is enough” and called a halt to uncontrolled dairy farm expansion. Too many conversions are happening on marginal land in regions not suited to dairying. The public and the environment have been paying a very high price for that strategy and Fish & Game is naturally pleased that Landcorp has listened and acted decisively,” Mr Johnson says.

Fish & Game hopes the rest of the agriculture industry and local government will follow Landcorp’s lead.

“This ought to be a game changer for the industry. Landcorp is showing there is an alternative way of farming which is productive, profitable and puts the environment first. It is just plain good business sense to have a clean environment and sustainable, profitable farming,” says Mr Johnson.

“Modern, progressive farmers understand that if they are to have a future, they must work within the natural environment, not against it.

“Environmentally sustainable farming would be a powerful marketing advantage internationally which the country could exploit for every New Zealander,” says Mr Johnson.

“It is a brave move by Landcorp to set up an Environmental Reference Group comprised of some of the strongest critics of present practices. Today’s outcome shows that collaboration at the industry level is an infinitely more progressive way to go than a mega-party high-level process that only provides ‘recommendations’ to government.”

“Hopefully other primary industry sectors will learn from Landcorp’s leadership,” says Mr Johnson.

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