Fonterra confirms industrial dairying now unsustainable
- Richie Cosgrove
Fish & Game is welcoming Fonterra’s first ever sustainability report in 16 years on its environmental performance, saying it shows the corporate dairy giant is scrambling to respond to public demand for better water quality.
Fonterra says its just-released report demonstrates a “new level of openness” and recognises people are concerned about the impact it is having on the environment.
But Fish & Game’s chief executive Martin Taylor says it just reinforces the status quo and is too little, too late.
“Fonterra’s sudden acknowledgement that it needs to operate sustainably and environmentally is long overdue,” Mr Taylor says.
“This company has been around for 16 years and in that time we have seen cow numbers soar, irrigation explode and water quality plummet.
“Fonterra’s failure to address these issues sooner means dairying as it exists at the moment is unsustainable.”
Martin Taylor says Fonterra needs to take hard decisions, now.
“Single handedly, Fonterra has badly hurt New Zealand’s clean, green image. Only recently we have seen this country described by leading British environmentalist Sir Tim Smit as being like a beautiful person with cancer,” Mr Taylor says.
“The environmental damage caused by industrial farming will harm marketing opportunities for billion dollar industries like tourism, beef and lamb farmers, apple growers, kiwi fruit orchardists and vineyards.
“Why should these people be paying the cost of the environmental damage caused by a few thousand dairy farmers?”
“Make no mistake, the present dire situation has been caused by Fonterra’s single minded focus on increased production at all costs, aided and abetted by weak regional councils.”
Martin Taylor says Fonterra is now confronting a major change in direction.
“If Fonterra is sincere about reversing dairy’s environmental impact, it must accept its present farming model is unsustainable and that dairying must pay for the cost of cleaning up its pollution.
“The only way forward is fewer cows, less water use and less environmental harm,” he says.
Martin Taylor says Fonterra’s sudden scramble to acknowledge New Zealanders’ concerns over the state of their rivers and lakes shows people power at work.
“New Zealanders are fed up with the fall in water quality and that’s why it became one of this election’s defining issues. Public anger is now at a level where Fonterra’s social licence to operate was under serious threat
“Public patience has run out and the corporate dairy industry is now trying to catch up and rescue its credibility.”