Working hard for cleaner water
Farmers are making a real effort to help improve waterways in this country, despite what their detractors claim.
When it comes to water, I guarantee if people focus solely on nitrates to measure quality, they will not get to grips with a holistic water strategy; they will just get empty agriculture.
I was heartened to hear the Minister for the Environment, Amy Adams, promise last week at Federated Farmers’ national council that she intends to take a hands-on approach to implementing the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, rather than leave it to individual councils.
Some farmers may balk at the idea, but collaboration with the government and stakeholders is the best way to show the rest of New Zealand that farmers are serious about environmental improvement. Farmers are already doing this. During the past few years the federation has been hugely involved in the Land and Water Forum, developing a roadmap to implementing the National Policy Statement.
We have listened to stakeholders around the country and they have listened to us.
The result is a truly collaborative pathway to passing on a clean and sustainable country to future generations.
The upshot of the forum’s final report is that everyone will be treated the same.
We all have a part to play in reducing our impact on the nation’s waterways.
Some urban councils are already trying to gain exemptions from this process, as they know the horrendous costs that will be involved.
Farmers who have spent hundreds of thousands on environmental mitigation can sympathise, but this is something we all need to do.
Meanwhile, Massey University’s ‘‘eel man’’, Mike Joy, has been doing his best to scare tourists off by complaining in the New York Times about his perception of New Zealand’s water quality.
Perhaps it is for the best. After all, many New Zealand councils have problems containing the existing load on their sewer systems, so perhaps we should reduce any additional bums on toilet seats around the country.
Also, considering the fuel it takes to bring 2.5 million tourists here and for them to tour in campervans, the industry racks up a huge fossil fuel-based carbon footprint, regardless of how much they are taxed for it.
Seriously, though, without tourism this country would be even more reliant on that other industry Dr Joy and others want to shut down – agriculture. They seem determined to ignore the good work the industry has done during the past decade or so, ignoring signs that water quality in some areas of Waikato has even begun to improve under modern farming practices.
It would be more constructive for these people to support moves to improve farming practices and find new, science-based solutions for the sector and all New Zealanders, who also contribute to the problem through everyday life.
I am no journalist, but I have a great deal of belief in the media’s special responsibility to report what is going on as truthfully as possible. It is true there is a lot yet to be done by farmers, but we are involved and committed to real solutions.
It just seems that no matter what we farmers do and say, any good work is frequently drowned out by the ‘‘rural bad, urban good’’ crowd.
Yes, when we fail, that should be reported. However, for balance and fairness, should there not be equal coverage of what we get right?
Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens explained to Federated Farmers national council why our dollar is so persistently high at the moment.
Overseas insurance underwriters need to buy New Zealand dollars when paying out for the Christchurch earthquakes. This figure could be as high as $30 billion.
Our economy is fairly stable – not great, but better than many other countries.
Combined with the billions of dollars of debt-free money being tipped into the economy, our dollar seems a good bet for currency investors avoiding Europe’s instability or stagnation in the United States. We cannot do much about it, but I thought it was good to know.
It is now the competition time of year and I encourage people to enter.
Competitions such as the Dairy Industry Awards encourage industry development and get people focused on their careers.
Two of my best business opportunities came from relationships created in my involvement in these.
I am a strong believer these are great for our industry and we need to celebrate success more.