One Plan’s aim is to bring about new management practices while introducing ceilings on the nutrient leakage from farms into the catchment

Federated Farmers need to own their shit

Gareth MorganEnvironment0 Comments

The problem with Conor English is that he stubbornly refuses to answer the charge that Fed Farmers think that it is a birthright for its members to vandalise the environment and smash the rights of others, all for the pursuit of profit.

Nothing wrong with profit of course, it’s the market measure, but when it comes about from treading over the rights of others, public policy is sadly lacking. Mr English doesn’t agree.

While increasingly local authorities and the Environment Court are saying it’s not okay and that other people’s rights matter, reflecting our maturing as a society and the resource exploitation has limits, the Fed Farmers that Conor English is leading, spits the dummy over such outrageous liberalism.

Why otherwise are the Feds challenging the Environment Court in the High Court?

It seems to be central to this Conor English-led Federated Farmers that despoiling the environment is okay. Listen to the clip you’ll hear him say the local council is discharging raw sewerage so why pick on farmers? Justifying a wrong by benchmarking it against another wrong is not the sharpest logic to deploy.

[quote align=”right” color=”#999999″] No more pollution is acceptable so it doesn’t matter how high the hurdle is.[/quote] Let’s repeat it. If Fed Farmers’ view was that you can’t despoil the environment for others in your pursuit of personal gain, it would not be squealing and saying the Environment Court is raising the barrier too high in terms of what pollution is acceptable. No more pollution is acceptable so it doesn’t matter how high the hurdle is.

That’s the issue here and as the dairy herd increases from 2 to 4.5 million and ever upwards, this constraint will enforce a change in farming practice. If you want more cows and you’re not allowed to impact the waterways with their presence, then you need to change practices. Connor English does not accept this, he argues farmers should be allowed to raise their pollution in line with their herd size. There is no logic to his lobby group challenging the Environment Court otherwise. Conor’s form of guardianship is not quite the kaitiakitanga that preceded industrial farming.

In a world where conservation is becoming more and more mainstream, reflecting our economic maturity farmers need more rational advocates than this. Fed Farmers may have jettisoned their ACT party leadership but it is evident they hold significant sway over government.

It’s noticeable that National are pulling back from siding with Fish and Game and conservationists challenging Fed Farmers through the Courts on this issue now, and instead are switching sides as the raw reality of rural politics is brought to bear on the Conservation Minister.

This fits with National’s demolition of the ETS, withdrawal from Kyoto and Steven Joyce’s championing of GDP growth founded on continued destruction of natural assets. We truly have stepped back to a conservative, non-progressive government.

My comments which sparked the initial debate can be found in this post – No right to profit by trampling over others


About the Author
Gareth Morgan

Gareth Morgan

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Gareth Morgan is a New Zealand economist and commentator on public policy who in previous lives has been in business as an economic consultant, funds manager, and professional company director. He is also a motorcycle adventurer and philanthropist. Gareth and his wife Joanne have a charitable foundation, the Morgan Foundation, which has three main stands of philanthropic endeavour – public interest research, conservation and social investment.