The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS -

Are re­gional rates re­ally be­ing used to pro­mote pol­luted rivers? It seems so when read­ing a re­cent story on our ru­ral re­gional coun­cil­lors. They’re back­ing Nick Smith’s un­wise pro­posal al­low­ing our rivers to be so pol­luted that peo­ple can’t swim in them for health rea­sons. If the pro­posal goes ahead, it will be yet an­other lap in a govern­ment-spon­sored race to the bot­tom for our re­gional econ­omy.

I’m all for farm­ing. And farm busi­ness vi­a­bil­ity. So it’s par­tic­u­larly galling to see th­ese coun­cil­lors’ pol­luted think­ing now, when our lo­cal dairy farm­ers are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­actly what it means to be trapped as bot­tom price tak­ers in a global com­mod­ity mar­ket.

To build our ru­ral econ­omy we need to set and achieve stan­dards so New Zealand farm­ing re­stores and builds on ro­bust cre­den­tials as world lead­ing pro­duc­ers of planet-friendly, safe and de­li­cious high-value foods. That will be a climb to the top, ex­actly where we want to be for our econ­omy, and our rivers. It’s this pos­i­tive ru­ral eco­nomic vi­sion and de­liv­ery we ex­pect from our re­gional coun­cil now, to build and hold a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage for our farm­ers and our re­gion.

Brent Barrett Palmer­ston North

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