Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The problem

Yesterday, local authorities, conservationists, iwi and major polluters came together to sign a historic agreement to clean up the Manawatu River. But one group stayed away from the party: Federated Farmers. Confronted with a river which is officially one of the most polluted in the western world, which smells of burnt sheep and faeces, Federated Farmers decided to do nothing. Indeed, they remain in total denial, about the scale of the problem, their responsibility for it (farm run off is responsible for 80 - 90% of nitrate pollution in the river), and the level of community concern. And reading their comments, it seems that many of them are quite happy for the situation to continue exactly as it is.

If it wasn't clear already, it should be clear now: farmers are the problem. They are dirty, filthy polluters, with an unsustainable business model which relies on dumping their pollution on others. They dump their cow farts in the atmosphere, their shit in the rivers, and their toxic chemicals in the soil. And they refuse to take even the mildest steps to clean up their act.

This costs all of us , and it cannot be allowed to continue. Farmers have been given an opportunity to clean their act up voluntarily, and they've refused. Time to regulate instead. Stocking limits, a cap on nitrogen pollution, tighter restrictions on effluent disposal, and of course making them pay for the 50% of New Zealand's greenhouse gas emissions they're responsible for would be a good start.