Federated Farmers question feasibility of Labour's freshwater quality policy
Federated Farmers is questioning the feasibility of the Labour Party's policy on freshwater quality released earlier this month.
The policy was based on the false assumption that poor water quality was mainly caused by farmers, Federated Farmers environment spokesman and Mid Canterbury farmer Chris Allen said.
"While we recognise farmers have an important part to play in improving and managing water quality, the reality is, all New Zealanders have a role to play."
Many farmers are over the constant claims that New Zealand has terrible water quality and farmers are largely at fault when in fact 80 per cent of New Zealand's waterways are stable or improving and all communities - across rural and urban - are part of the problem and therefore need to be part of the solution," Allen said.
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In its policy statement the Labour Party proposed a 12-point plan for improving the nation's waterways, however, the plan was lacking a balanced approach and could undermine regional economies, he said.
The Labour Party's election pledge to work with urban local authorities to reduce the effect of sewage and storm water was welcome but the federation asked that farmers and rural communities received the same commitment by Labour.
"It's all about respect, and working in partnership. Farmers and their communities deserve the same spirit of engagement as urban," he said.
"Federated Farmers believes in sensible, practical and affordable solutions to water quality and we envisage a robust and growing economy co-existing alongside New Zealander's aspirations for good water quality.
"Farmers are taking steps already to address the situation, and all we are asking is the rest of society gets involved. Farmers and their communities taking the initiative and doing their part won't solve the problem alone."
He said there were many examples of farmers and their communities working together to take ownership of waterway quality and making good progress in their improvement.
"The recent Green Ribbon Awards in Wellington where two farmer-led environment projects were honoured demonstrates this," Allen said.
Federated Farmers had been involved in and committed to the Land and Water Forum since its formation in 2009, playing an active role in the development of this and the previous three forum reports, said Allen.
"We have worked tirelessly to represent the interests of New Zealand's farmers and collaborated strongly with stakeholders from all quarters. Unlike others, we are not prepared to turn our back on the forum. Instead we sign the report as a reflection of our commitment to its work and with pride in our efforts, however, the decision of our national council was only to do so on the condition that we continue to discuss the report and consider our options."
Federated Farmers believed in "local solutions for local problems," based on sound data when it came to tackling environmental issues.
"Should Labour lead the Government following the general election, Federated Farmers would welcome the opportunity to work closely with Labour on finding sensible, practical and affordable solutions to water quality," Allen said.