Monday, April 07, 2008

MAF supports dirty dairying

A couple of years ago there was outrage in the Manawatu over dairy giant Fonterra being granted resource consent to dump 8,500 cubic meters of effluent per day into the Manawatu River. The plan was eventually defeated, but more importantly it resulted in the regional council,, getting the message that its citizens wanted clean waterways. As a result, they included a goal of having all lakes, streams and rivers in the region safe for swimming in their draft annual plan. Naturally, local farmers - the major polluters - are opposed. What's surprising is that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is backing them. So on the one hand, we have a government that demands improvements to freshwater quality and claims to be working with councils to improve the quality of our lakes and streams, while on the other we have a government ministry (presumably backed by its Minister) working to thwart those improvements. So much for coherent policy.

The government has to choose: is it on the side of the environment, or not? If it is, then it needs to make sure MAF follows official government policy rather than being captured by farmers. And if its not, then at least we'll know that a vote for Labour is a vote for pollution.