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Greenpeace Calls on Dairy Industry to Come Clean

12 January 2017

NEW ZEALAND - Despite widespread public concern over New Zealand's polluted rivers and lakes, the dairy industry plans to push the national dairy herd to record numbers.

Greenpeace claims lobby group, Dairy NZ is making a cynical attempt to distract New Zealanders from this uncomfortable truth.

Greenpeace Campaigner, Genevieve Toop said, “What industrial dairy lobbyists don't want the public to focus on is that they are planning a big increase in the number of dairy cows, already at 6 and a half million, which will cause more pollution in our lakes and rivers.”

In the last 48 hours a war of words has broken out over a TV ad which links industrial dairying with rivers and lakes that have been declared unswimmable.

Dairy NZ tried to stop the ad by taking Greenpeace to the Advertising Standards Authority. The advertising watchdog ruled in Greenpeace’s favour and rejected a total of 12 complaints, saying the ad was truthful, and not misleading. Dairy NZ is now planning to appeal the decision.

Ms Toop says, “Dairy NZ is continuing to deny the obvious - more industrial dairying means more ruined rivers”

“Instead of dealing with the problem of too many cows the industry is planning to build think-big irrigation schemes to expand the dairy herd in Canterbury, Otago, Wairarapa, Northland and Hawkes Bay. If these irrigation schemes go ahead there will be tens of thousands more dairy cows which will spell disaster for our lakes and rivers.”

Dairy NZ released a statement on the ASA ruling pointing to its mitigation programmes of fencing rivers and planting trees.

But, Greenpeace says this misses the point. “It’s not rocket science, more cows means more pollution.”

“While fencing and planting work is applaudable, too many cows on overstocked farms creates nitrate pollution from cow urine which seeps through the soil into groundwater and then into waterways where it can cause algal growth.”

“If we are going to save our rivers and lakes we need to ditch plans for irrigation schemes, decrease cow numbers and transition to ecological farming, without delay.”

Ecological farming is a model of farming that boosts productivity without the need for destructive chemical fertilisers, big irrigation and other industrial methods.

"Ecological farming provides models of dairying which require fewer cows and fewer chemicals to produce high value environmentally sound products.”

A paper released by AgResearch that compared different dairy farming models confirmed that the low input, low intensity model which didn't use any chemical nitrogen fertiliser and kept lower numbers of cows per hectare produced the most milk per cow per year, was the best environmental performer, the least financially risky and was more profitable when milk-price payouts were low. (1)

“Instead of producing more commodity milk powder, New Zealand could be producing a variety of clean, green and high-value food products that the world is increasingly demanding. And we can do it through ecological farming that looks after our land, our rivers and our international reputation.”

(1) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800907005757

 

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