Sale of State Assets – Money Down the Toilet?

It’s been announced that 400 million dollars from the sale of state assets will be used for farm irrigation. What are the chances that farmers accessing this money will first have to demonstrate that farm run off doesn’t end up in the nearest rivers and waterways? That waterways are effectively protected by effluent tanks, tree planting to help sieve excess minerals, and so on …

Otherwise it’s a lolly scramble, but the lollies are toxic …

Our waterways are already polluted by farm runoff, subsidies for farm irrigation may only worsen the problem.

As an aside, government forecasts include doubling dairy production, yet there are no suggestions where the land is going to come from, or how the land and water is going to be protected from the doubling of production. As economist Rod Oram pointed out, it doesn’t add up.

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5 thoughts on “Sale of State Assets – Money Down the Toilet?

  1. Homepaddock
    While your comment offers hope, and I really do hope that there will be requirements as you suggest, i’m not confident that it will happen.

    I agree that irrigation, done properly, has economic and social benefits while protecting and enhancing the environment. No doubt about that.

    However, there are serious issues with the governance of the environmental management of irrigation eg in Canterbury where the water is artesian and the run-off from dairying goes straight back into a depleting water source. Environmental resource consents were administered by the Canterbury Regional Council who were placing more conditions on the dairy industry and requiring greater environmental sustainability than the users (dairy farmers) were prepared to accept. The government ( pressured by certain lobbyists?) sacked the controlling council and appointed a commissioner who ruled in favour of the farmers …. Where is the neutral protection of our natural resources ….

    Dairy farming (I support it’s importance to the economy) does not have a good record of compliance when it comes to protecting the environment.

    Fonterra admits national rates of ‘significant non-compliance’ with regional councils’ effluent management rules having risen to 15% in 2008/09, (manager of Fonterra’s team of sustainable dairying advisers)

    Environment Canterbury’s 2008 report on its monitoring of resource consent compliance found that 20% of Canterbury dairy farms required re-inspection
    visits after incidents of significant or major noncompliance. It also found that approximately a third of farms had problems with effluent discharge, of which
    17% were considered significant to major. Only 46% of dairy farms complied fully. (www.dairynz.co.nz “The Strategy for New Zealand Dairy Farming” (2009) DairyNZ, DCANZ Federated Farmers)

    What also concerns me about giving money for irrigation that it may encourage even more conversion of land to dairying, and that conversion of land to dairying exacerbates problems of nutrient run-off.

    I certainly hope that your claims about North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme are adopted before any of this 400 million dollars is distributed, and that the Canterbury farce is not repeated elsewhere. (Or dairy farms there become recipients)

    We already have extremely problematic areas such as the Manawatu, Lake Rotorua, Lake Taupo, the Waikato River …

    1. Heather, this was a comment made by Rod Oram on National Radio a few months ago. I’ll see if I can find a transcript, or the source of his comment in the National Party policy documents

    2. Heather, the source for National’s goal to double dairy production is their 2011 Economic Development Plan which aims for a tripling of food and beverage exports to $58 billion by 2025. It includes a doubling of dairy exports. There is no provision for investing in scientific research and commercial development of higher value nutrional products ie strategies to switch from the present low-cost, low-value commodity production. Rather, increases in exports are to be achieved through incremental gains in productivity, volume and prices. The National government is investing in science to intensify farming in environmentally sustainable ways (mentioned in National’s electoral campaign). This may sound promising , but there is no way that doubling the number of cows can be done without damaging the environment. As you say, it’s insane!

  2. “What are the chances that farmers accessing this money will first have to demonstrate that farm run off doesn’t end up in the nearest rivers and waterways? That waterways are effectively protected by effluent tanks, tree planting to help sieve excess minerals, and so on …”

    These will be requirements of the resource consent as it was for North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme. Every farm has to have an environmental farm plan to ensure efficient use of the water, no run-off and protection of water ways. Every farm is independently audited each year, if they don'[t comply the company doesn’t supply them with water.

    Irrigation, done properly, has economic and social benefits while protecting and enhancing the environment.

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