Federated Farmers: Agriculture Not a Pollutant to NZ Rivers

Federated Farmers: Agriculture Not a Pollutant to NZ Rivers

New Zealand’s agriculture industry does not pollute the country’s waterways or affect the quality of water, according to a Federated Farmers spokesperson.

In fact, the organisation claimed that the industry is a sustainable one. Chris Engel, Federated Farmers Wairapapa Dairy chairman, said that farms across the country do not contribute to polluted waterways. Instead, urban problems generally serve as the main reason for the issue, Engel added.

The Green Party has already announced plans to put a halt on new dairy farms and introduce a nitrate pollution levy. The move aims to reduce the widely agreed upon problem of waterway pollution.

Taxing Pollution

Federated Farmers issued its statement amid plans by the Green Party to impose a new levy on nitrate pollution, as well as suspend any creation of new dairy farms. While the group maintained its stance on farming’s environmental impact, scientists provided a different outlook.

Massey University freshwater ecologist Mike Joy believes dairy intensification serves as the main reason for waterway pollution over the last 20 years. Clean-up efforts would be useless if the root cause of the problem remains unresolved. The Ministry for the Environment noted that more than 60 per cent of monitored rivers in the country are not safe for swimming, largely due to sediment, bacteria and nutrients from farms.

New Environmental Standards

Another issue concerning the agriculture sector involves new environmental standards for farm forestry, which would lead to added expenses. For Monitor Lifts, provider of specialised equipments in the country, believes equipment is necessary in the field, but not everything fits the budget. Unlike a spider cherry picker or tractor, small- and medium-sized businesses would likely be required to spend a significant amount to comply with the standards.

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The new rules cover any commercial tree plantation spanning more than a hectare. Farmers across the country are expected to be compliant by May 1, 2018. Peter Weir, New Zealand Forest Owners Association environment committee chairman, said that the regulations would aim to promote better quality for harvesting, control erosion and sediment among other goals.


The New Zealand economy relies heavily on the agriculture sector. However, do you think that the industry should do more to become more sustainable?