Farming plan won’t work says lecturer
Massey University ecology and environmental science senior lecturer Dr Mike Joy says the 21-principle action plan for good farming practice will not achieve much.
The good farming practice for water quality targets land, waterway and soil protection, water use and irrigation, as well as nutrient and effluent management was launched in the Waikato on June 5,
But Mike argues that the voluntary nature of the plan, like any other voluntary agreement, is an excuse for people to continue what they are doing.
“Unless there is a law to check the activities of farmers, the good ones will comply with the agreement and the bad ones won’t and nothing happens.
“People obey traffic rules because there are traffic lights and cops are watching. Offenders face the law instantly.
“But it’s not the same with voluntary agreements. If there are no cameras put in place or cops patrolling the farms, farmers will continue with what they are doing.”
As a consequence of this, Mike described our rivers as “very dirty by any standards and for many years this management has done nothing and the existing plans are not viable”.
He said there was always talk about budgets, which was a reason to do nothing. Four governance groups consisting of representatives from the primary sectors, regional councils, primary industries and environment ministries developed the plan.
However, Federated Farmers environment spokesman Chris Allen thinks the action plan was a tangible illustration of commitment by the primary sector, and local and central government to work together to enhance our streams and rivers.
“It is all aimed at encouraging every farmer and grower to adopt good practice and put in place a Farm Environment Plan that boosts waterway protection on farm, and at catchment level. It also entails a system to monitor and report progress.”
Farmer Malcolm Cairns said the plan provides farmers with practical tools to improve both environmental and economic outcomes.
Federated Farmers acknowledge that farming has an impact on the environment but believes that industry leadership in solving the problem rather than regulation by arbitrary numbers, will deliver water-efficient and nutrientefficient farming systems that enhance ecological and recreational values.