Greens, farming and “more sustainable land use”

The leak of policies the Greens say were agreed on in governing negotiations will raise a few eyebrows in the farming and export sectors.

1. Climate action

“Significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050” and the establishing of an independent climate commission. This would include shifting farms to “more sustainable land use” and a focus on transport, energy and primary industries.

New Zealand is supposed to be committed to zero carbon emissions anyway, and it was also Labour policy.

‘Sustainable farming’ is more contentious.

4. Water

Improve water quality and fund “freshwater enhancement”. Government support for irrigation will be wound down.

There has to be continued and increased efforts to reduce water pollution from farming. Somehow this needs to be done without impacting too much on farm incomes, employment and exports.

The farming sector may be concerned, given that Greens have said they want to reduce cow numbers by (I think) 25%. Some reduction is probably sensible, but significant reductions quickly could have a major impact.

During the campaign James Shaw said that a nitrate tax would cost the average dairy farm “no more than 5%” of their profits.

He said the party, if it were in government, would invest in the Sustainable Farming Fund and introduce a fund to support organic farming alongside a new sustainability accreditation scheme.

Mr Shaw said this would be paid for by a nitrate pollution levy on dairy farmers who continue to pollute the soils and water.

He said nitrate pollution was already measured by a modelling system called Overseer.

“The average dairy farm would pay no more than five percent of their pre-tax profits. So that’s the average and it would be no more than that.

That could be significant to struggling cow cockies, especially when it could be in addition to carbon tax for emissions as well as higher costs for irrigation.

What’s really important is that farmers would be able to get that money back by applying to the funds that we’re setting up.”

The Green Party would also place a moratorium on any more farms being converted to dairy, and instead support organic farming.

There have already been moves towards more organic farming methods and this should certainly be encouraged.

However the potential impact on the livelihood of farmers is not a minor matter.

Green policy (not all included in the governing agreement):  Clean water, great farming

The Green Party has a plan to support farmers to move to less polluting, more environmentally sustainable and more profitable ways of farming so that our rivers and lakes are safe to swim in and our drinking water from aquifers is protected.

We will put a levy on nitrate pollution from agriculture, starting with intensive dairying, and use the revenue raised to fund a package of game-changing support measures that farmers can use to reduce their impact on our environment.  We will:

  1. Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming by
  • Extending the Sustainable Farming Fund with an extra $20 million every year.
  • Creating a Transformational Farming Partnership Fund of around $70 million a year.
  • Increasing funding for the Landcare Trust to $16 million over three years.
  • Rewarding tree planting by farmers and landowners.
  • Allowing accelerated depreciation on dairy farm equipment.
  • Support organic farming by introducing national standards, and new funding of $5 million a year.
  1. Implement a levy on nitrate pollution to help protect our rivers, lakes and aquifers, which will raise around $136.5 million in the first year. This will fund the programmes listed above, and an additional $20 million a year for freshwater clean-up projects.
  2. Put a moratorium on new dairy farm conversions.
  3. Wind up Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd and stop providing subsidies for big irrigation projects.
  4. Transition away from Palm Kernel Expeller/Extract (PKE) to alternative feed stocks, from 2018.
  5. Establish a ‘Good Food Aotearoa New Zealand’ national sustainability accreditation scheme for food products, processors and farmers, so those who work with the land, not against it, can prove it to consumers at home and overseas to fetch a higher price and are more attractive to export markets.

“Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming ” – great ideals, but this is vague. I wonder if there has been any real research done on how much more profitable farming will be if it is made more sustainable, how much it will affect farm production, employment and exports.

There is a massive amount dependant on farming in New Zealand, and raising costs and reducing intensification could have a big impact. Do the Greens know how much?

Dunedin’s water problem

The Dunedin City Council reacted quickly to non-treated water finding it’s way into the city water supply. While the water was dirty it isn’t known if there is any risk.

ODT: Extent of water threat known today

The Dunedin City Council says the extent of the public health threat posed by the city’s water scare will not be known until later today.

The council yesterday issued a boil water notice covering a swath of the central city and north end after millions of litres of untreated ”raw” water from the Ross Creek Reservoir entered the city’s drinking supply.

Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose said the level of contamination in the raw water was not known, but would be confirmed by test results expected later today.

The raw water was stored at the reservoir for an extended period, as a back-up supply for the city, but it was not treated or tested, she said.

”It’s not for drinking, so there is a health risk.

”We don’t know the level of risk because, simply put, we weren’t testing this water because it wasn’t supposed to be drunk.”

The council and Dunedin Hospital both responded to yesterday’s alarm by activating their emergency operations centres.

Despite a fast and major reaction there were significant flaws in how it was dealt with.

I live outside the affected area, but I work in the affected area. I happened to notice the water contamination news yesterday morning, but could easily have not known about it all day. I drink cold tap water often at work.

There was no notification delivered to the building that i work in that I’m aware of.

But I doubt there is much risk. There might be a bit of colour in the Ross Creek water but there is unlikely to be any dangerous contamination.

I grew up on untreated water, it was sourced from a 12 km water race. We often pulled rubbish including dead animals out of the water.

But the council had to treat this contamination as potentially risky.

Labour’s water policy

Jacinda Ardern announced Labour’s water policy yesterday, but many details have been left undecided, in particular who will be charged how much for water.

Clean rivers for future generations

Labour will lead a nationwide effort to restore our rivers and lakes to a clean, swimmable state, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Clean water is the birth-right of all of us. I want future generations to be able to swim in the local river, just like I did. All our children deserve to inherit swimmable lakes and rivers – and they can, if we commit ourselves as a country to cleaning up our water.

“We can do this. We can restore our rivers and lakes to a truly swimmable standard. If we choose it, and if we all work together. It will mean using our water more carefully, and being smarter about how we manage our pollution.

“Labour will help with the task of protecting our waterways from agricultural pollution. Our Ready for Work programme will employ young people off the dole and give them work improving the environment – including fencing waterways, riparian planting, and other work to improve water quality.

“A royalty on the commercial consumption of water will assist with the cost of keeping our water clean. The royalty will be flexible to reflect the scarcity or abundance of water in different regions, the different quality of water, and its use. Royalty levels will be set following consultation and the revenue will largely be returned to regional councils.

“To help set the royalty, in my first hundred days, I’ll host a roundtable on water at Parliament, with all affected sectors. I will not set a rate until I have met with those who will be affected; this is an issue that we must tackle together.

“Labour believes when water is exported for profit, private companies should also pay a royalty.

“Labour will work with iwi to resolve Treaty water claims in a manner that respects iwi’s mana, and restores the mauri of our rivers and lakes.

“Our river and lakes are a taonga of huge significance to Māori, a favourite place of recreation for New Zealanders. It’s time to restore them for future generations. Let’s do this,” says Jacinda Ardern.

David Parker said all large users of water given permits through councils would pay for water, but wouldn’t define ‘large’.

Parker wouldn’t ‘pluck a figure out of the air’, so will go into the election promising water charges but deferring to an expert panel to decide how much, after the election of course.

 

Greens: water levy for councils and iwi

The Green Party announced water policy today that includes a levy on bottled water, to be distributed to local councils and iwi.

1 News:  Greens promise 10% water levy, playing to public uproar over companies using cheap water consents

The Green Party are promising a 10 cent levy on the sale and export of water, as they kick off their election campaign today.

Co-leader James Shaw announced the new water pricing policy, playing to a public uproar over bottling companies exploiting cheap water consents.

Mr Shaw said it was “unfair” companies can profit. The Greens’ levy would be divided between local councils and iwi.

That could be complicated. Which councils and which iwi?

There would also be an interim ban on new consents.

In the longer term, the Greens want to develop a “fair price” for commercial users, including farmers. They would establish a working group to do that.

The proposal also includes new standards on clean drinking water and greater protection for groundwater. And it wants to re-introduced a $100m subsidy to help communities of less than 500 people get better access to clean water.

The Green Party policy information:

Protecting drinking water

New Zealanders can’t take clean drinking water for granted anymore, but the Green Party will fix that. No one should have to worry that the water coming from their taps isn’t safe to drink.

Water bottling companies profit from some of our purest and cleanest water, but pay only minimal administration fees for the privilege, while some communities around the country have to boil water before they drink it.

The Green Party will put an immediate 10 cent/litre levy on water bottling and exports. Revenue will go to mana whenua and the wider community through local councils. Local councils will be expected to use it to clean up waterways, and protect drinking water sources and infrastructure.

In government we will develop a new way of allocating and pricing all commercial uses of water, based on shared values of protecting fresh water, honouring te Tirirti o Waitangi, and upholding mana whenua rights. This will involve nationwide meetings and hui to involve all New Zealanders in the process. We expect tangata whenua will play a critical role in this process.

New water bottling consents will be banned until we have the regulation in place to ensure priority is given to good supplies of clean drinking water for all New Zealanders. We will protect drinking water sources from the activities that pollute them with pathogens, sediment, run off and nitrates.

And, we’ll reinstate funding for programmes that help small communities and marae upgrade their drinking water systems, so everyone has access to clean, drinkable water.

More information:

Something in the water

There must be something odd in the water at Newshub. Just because they polled on water royalties they claim that it could be a “major election issue”.

They are trying to make a major headline issue out of something they plucked out of the water.

Newshub poll: 87pct say charge royalties on water

The exporting of New Zealand water looks likely to be a major election issue.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll shows 87 percent of New Zealanders are unhappy that exporters are able to obtain the water for next-to-nothing then send it offshore for big profits.

Water consents are very cheap – and profits are big.

This is more like agenda promotion rather than an unbiased poll report.

The numbers on ‘Should water bottling companies pay a royalty?’

  • Yes 87%
  • No 9%
  • Don’t know 4%

This is hardly a surprising result. And the Newshub over flavouring of the water debate is not surprising either.

They trotted out comments by opposition MPs James Shaw and David Parker, and found an ‘ordinary person’ neighbouring a Chinese owned water bottling plant who doesn’t like it.

This is blatant making a story to promote a poll result by Newshub – trying to make an issue out of something that most people probably barely care about let alone would base their vote on.

They don’t seem to have polled on “Would you be happy to pay a royalty on the water you use?”

Neither does there seem to be a poll on “Would you prefer that Newshub reported more on things that actually matter?”

The Newshub-Reid Research poll was conducted June 2-12. 1000 people were surveyed, 750 by telephone and 250 by internet panel. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Water charges possible post election

Bill English seems to have reacted to public pressure over water exports.

NZ Herald: Government asks for advice on charging for freshwater following public campaign

The Government is asking for advice on whether it should be charging companies to export bottled freshwater in response to rising public pressure on the issue.

Prime Minister Bill English said today that ministers were writing to a technical advisory group today to investigate a price on water allocation, but only in relation to the relatively small bottled water industry.

That is despite Environment Minister Nick Smith emphatically saying last week that it was not worth looking at because bottled water made up a fraction of the freshwater used in New Zealand.

Speaking at his weekly press conference this afternoon, English said he sought more advice because of “growing public concerns” about the issue.

He reiterated that the issue was complicated and that any charge would mark a fundamental shift in policy in New Zealand.

Until now it has not been possible to charge for water, only for it’s distribution and supply (usually through rates or water charges), or the cost of installing and maintaining irrigation systems, or the cost of extracting, bottling and distributing commerically sold water.

“We’re not saying it’s too hard, we’re just saying it’s hard.

“Because it’s a big shift for New Zealand, to say we’re actually going to put a price on water.

“Water has been free, it hasn’t been owned by anybody.”

RNZ: Labour acccuses PM of putting off water tax question

The government is being accused of passing the buck by asking a specialist group to look into the idea of taxing water.

Opposition parties say a similar government group has already looked at the matter and come up empty – and it won’t be any different this time.

But the Labour Party said Mr English was deliberately delaying the question until after the election.

The party’s water spokesperson, David Parker, said the advisory group would make no difference and the plan was “another flip flop from the Prime Minister”.

“Three days ago he was saying nothing could be done, and then he was saying something’s to be done and now he’s saying something’s to be done on the never-never. Flip-flopping like a fish out of water.”

English has left himself open to attacks like this.

However it would be ludicrous to respond to public pressure, which has only been applied in the last week or so, with a hurried law change, even if it was practical to fit it in to the legislative schedule.

Water is a victim of electioneering here.

Just slapping sudden charges on something that has never been charged for before would be nuts – especially given the likelihood there would be Waitangi Tribunal complications.

Who’s to blame for river health?

Dairy is the main scapecow when it comes to water pollution blame, but that industry takes it’s clean clean green obligations more seriously than most city dwellers.

Newshub has published a series of reports on water quality in New Zealand. One of the biggest culprits would appear to be the dairy industry – but that could be an unfair emphasis when there are a number of other causes of our water pollution, people and cities being major ones.

Newshub: Special report: The blame game over NZ river health

As Newshub reported in parts one and two of our special investigation into New Zealand’s river health, the dairy industry has acknowledged the role it plays in pollution, and its farmers have spent a billion dollars trying to protect waterways from further contamination.

There are other factors to consider when it comes to river pollution.

  • The beef, lamb and venison industries are not regulated to protect waterways.
  • Other land and river-based industries such as milling are key polluters.
  • Invasive species of fish and plants are still a major problem.
  • Climate change is having a major detrimental effect as our waterways heat up.

While it would be easy for Newshub to square up the protagonists in a ‘we said, they said’ debate, the true facts of the matter are that all New Zealanders are responsible for the health of our waterways, even the great majority of us who live in urban areas.

We all live here, we all eat the food that is grown here, and we all go to the toilet here – it’s that simple.

Even political critics of polluters are a part of the problem.

We are all responsible for water pollution

Freshwater ecologist Dr Kevin Simon from Auckland University told Newshub all Kiwis have a part to play.

“We spend lots of time of assigning blame and not enough time solving problems, so we need to focus more on how can we do these things better?

“I think all of New Zealand needs to step back and take ownership of this, it’s not just farmers, it’s not just the dairy industry, it’s all of us that own this problem, and we’re all going to need to step up together to try and figure out ways to do things better to fix these systems.

“It’s going to take all of us to make some hard choices to do that.”

Some of those hard choices will need to be made by people who live in New Zealand’s cities.

An easy choice is to blame someone else. Most cow pollution is at least natural, albeit concentrated.

City dwellers are major polluters

Just think of the almost 1.5 million people crammed into the relatively small area of the Auckland isthmus and the pollution that causes.

NIWA’s chief scientist of freshwater and estuaries Dr John Quinn told Newshub city living has a massive impact on water quality, and we should all be more aware of it.

“It is very much a ‘we’re all in this together’ issue, but in one sector, the urban-rural split in this is not actually very helpful for people blaming each other.

Who is actually making an effort to reduce pollution?

Is the dairy industry receiving the credit it deserves?

Dr Quinn also believes the dairy industry has made great strides in recognising and rectifying the pollution it causes, even in the face of increasing intensification.

“I think the dairy farming community needs to receive some credit for the effort that it’s put in over the last 15 years, and if we look at the results from those dairy practice catchments we looked at, we have seen improvements in water clarity amongst all of those, [and] reductions in E. coli in a number of them.

“Farmers have done a good job of getting livestock out of streams and improving effluent and nutrient management,” he says.

But they are still the main scapegoat, or scapecow.

Dr Simon says Kiwis should appreciate what farmers are trying to achieve by reducing pollution in waterways, which has gone largely unchecked since farming began in the 1800s.

“Part of the issue is that the farmers have to bear the brunt but we’ve got to help them. We’ve got to help provide them with solutions that are economically feasible and will work. Farmers don’t want to pollute, they want to make a living just like the rest of us.”

Some people make a living flying around the country complaining about others who pollute.

The real questions though, are these: Is the change, both in attitude and application, happening fast enough – and is it happening with the right amount of intensity?

We may only find out the answers to these questions in 10 to 20 years.

– Newshub.

The dirty water debate

Nick Smith and National continue to get a clobbering over the water policy announced yesterday – see Keep your head above water. – that has a deferred target nearly a quarter of a century away.

A lot of people may see it similarly. It was my first impression, and most people don’t look any further.

Stuff: New water target ‘challenging’

Vernon Small: New ‘swimmable’ fresh water targets are also 100% pure politics

You can argue about E,coli levels, and debate just what “swimmable” should mean.

As the Greens will.

And yes, those details are important.

But like the Government’s Predator Free by 2050 policy, its target of 90 per cent swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040 is just plain old good politics.

I’m not sure this is good politics.

Just like the 2050 predator free target, the promise is on the never-never and the day of reckoning in both cases will come long after this Government and these ministers have gone.

It is a tactic National have used before, and will use again as the election approaches.

Let’s call it policy inoculation.

In places where you are vulnerable, where your opponents have a stronger hand, you don’t necessarily have to play an ace.

But if you show a willingness to move you can take a lot of the wind out of your rivals’ sails.

Water quality is fundamental. Playing campaign games with it could easily backfire, and it may only need one significant backfire to turn the election against National.

Most voters will get that 2040 is a long time after September’s election.

Just listening to Smith being interviewed on RNZ – he is complaining about misunderstanding medians and percentages and other tedious details.

Too late. He has stuffed up his policy announcement

The Nation – bad Havelock water, good Helen Kelly

On The Nation today, the bad water in Havelock North:

The gastro outbreak in Havelock North is the worst in 30 years… so who’s to blame and what happens now? talks to Lawrence Yule And Massey University ecologist Mike Joy on how to stop something like this happening again

Yule says the Council has “no idea” how the fecal matter got into the bores, and the bores are still testing postive for e-coli

Yule says it wasn’t clear to him until Saturday how many people had become ill.

And Helen Kelly:

. talks to about her campaigns for workers’ rights, medical marijuana & why she won’t be writing a bucket list

What went wrong in Havelock North’s water supply? talks to Hasting mayor Lawrence Yule

Ecologist Mike Joy on the water crisis in Havelock North. How can we stop it happening again?

on workers’ rights, medicinal cannabis, and much more. Our very special full IV here:

Hawkes Bay water and Whale Oil

Duncan Brown has sent this observation of a post and comments at Whale Oil on the Havelock North water problems.


On WhaleOil yesterday, in a post entitled, ” Did CHB shit cause the gastro outbreak in Havelock North?”, http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2016/08/did-chb-shit-cause-the-gastro-outbreak-in-havelock-north/ the ubiquitous and anonymous Teknonym published an old photo of the Waipawa River, with the following text:

“It is shit from the non compliant CHB waste water scheme running into the Waipawa river. Not far down stream this runs into the Tukituki River, which runs down through CHB into Hawkes Bay past Havelock North.

The water from the Tukituki could be contaminating the Havelock North Town Supply.
Remember this is water that the extremely dodgy Hawkes Bay Regional Council is allowing to be polluted because they are not enforcing the consents on CHB, who continue to pour their shit into our rivers.”

The key line, an absolute conjecture is in the second paragraph, “The water from the Tukituki could be contaminating the Havelock North Town Supply.”

Fair enough, WhaleOil can have their hobby horses, every blogger does. It’d be nice if they could add a bit of science, you know, balanced reporting and all that, as they so regularly demand from the MSM and anyone else they disagree with.

But the conversation gets interesting in the comments:

First out of his corner is F T Bear…

  • F T Bear11 hours ago

    If you are not going to take the time to understand the aquifer system and how it works, and just sit back making silly conclusions based on someones personal crusade. You become just like all the Duncan Garners and HDPA’s and all the other left leaning fools that get a hard time on this blog.
    The water in the Tuki Tuki river has NOTHING to do with the water taken from a well near Havelock North

Pete jumps into the ring, wearing his gloves AND his referee’s uniform, and throws a haymaker…

  • Pete Mod F T Bear

    Mayor Yule can’t get two back to back water tests to deliver a consistent result, yet you keep coming here and have all the answers. Everybody says they have no real idea, including Tonkin Taylor, and you come here and are ruling this out. You might be right, but the council could do with your knowledge, your confidence and blind faith. Don’t waste it here.

Let me translate: It’s Mayor Yule’s fault, and because the results are inconsistent, HE is inconsistent. You obviously just don’t get it. No one really knows, and although you’ve obviously got your own opinion – and you might be right – any view other than Teknonym’s is not welcome on this blog.
Understandably, in the face of such worthy opposition, F T Bear backs-off, just a little, then jabs a bit

  • F T Bear Pete • But everything I have said is public knowledge. I just read and listen.

    The Tonkin Taylor report has nothing to do with Waipawa river, what I’m saying is you are misleading with your speculation.
    Since Saturday morning they have tested the water in Havelock every day and have no positive tests, to say he can’t put two tests back to back is also misleading.

Pete senses his opponent’s weakness, and gives him the old one-two…

  • Pete Mod F T Bear

    I just got it from the radio news where Mayor Yule said the latest test came back negative, so the previous one was a false positive. This is on the tanker.

    The point being that if these tests are so crap “publicly available” information is clearly not reliable.

    It amuses me that the first test was a false positive, as opposed to the second test being a false negative.

    You know. Spin, and all that.

    But that’s what this platform is for. And we don’t need your snide remarks. Just state your case, others, such as hard1 state theirs.

    ” You become just like all the Duncan Garners and HDPA’s” is sufficient to kick you to the kerb for trolling. I haven’t, because I’m sure it’s just a slip up. By all means defend your position, but don’t start kicking the moderators shins because they will eventually react.

Let me translate: My facts are better than your facts. We don’t like spin around here, unless it’s ours. Throw a punch we don’t like, even if it’s a legitimate comparison, that’s a foul and you’ll be out for the count. And don’t bother with any official protest, I’m the ref too, sucker!
And F T Bear whimpers a little, hits himself, throws his arms around a couple of times and throws in the towel…

  • F T Bear Pete

    Sorry, It is definitely not my intention to up set things, or you, I will give myself an uppercut.

    My points all along in this is that we jump to conclusions and start mixing fact with fiction that very soon becomes more fact.
    One of the issues is the terminology and on that I agree it could be better. As you and all your readers know sometimes our press are a bit fast and loose with the truth, misleading with bits and pieces just cause more angst.

    The problem with the test on the tanker that came back as a positive was the water was from a bore in Hastings which is why they chlorinated Hastings water. It is more than likely a tanker problem not a water problem. They haven’t had a positive test from the water in Havelock since the dosed it last Friday night.

    My other point is that the Waipawa river , RWSS, have nothing to do with this Havelock situation, I believe you only cloud and confuse by bring it up.

Translation: Thanks ref, I’m sorry I hit you where it hurts, here, I’ll do penance. Let me reiterate my point, but I’ll also blame the media cos I know that will make you happy. (whisper) And by the way, my points were valid.

And noting his opponent’s much subdued demeanor, the ref graciously doesn’t reply to the substance of his argument and declares himself the winner.

Judge’s decision: FT Bear loses the bout and might never return to the ring. The promoter loses cos he’s soon going to run out of fair-minded opponents. The audience loses and goes home disappointed to play tiddlywinks. The ref crows to his sycophants in the blue corner how once again he won the fight, fair and square, hardly noticing the rapidly emptying stadium beyond. The janitor of the once-worthy establishment prepares to turn out the lights, and heads off to the nearest bar to reflect on the good old days and weeps for what might have been.