This week, the cost of cleaning up the Waikato River to be swimmable (a goal which was placed into law as part of the Tainui settlement) was estimated at $8b. For now we won’t quibble about whether it is the right number, we’ll just agree we face a very big challenge.
The reaction seems to have sharpened the opposition to further conversions, or in fact any further intensification of farming within the catchment. This is long overdue.
The question is, if the legislation was passed in 2007, why has so much land converted to dairy since then? The majority of conversions have been from forest land, which is a double whammy for water quality due to the increase in sediment loss and the additional nitrogen from having animals on the land.
In this Whiteboard Friday we ask – why did so much forestry land convert to dairy in the first place? The answer brings together many issues the Morgan Foundation looks at including tax, climate change and water quality.
Please note that the numbers used in this Whiteboard Friday are illustrative, as costs and returns will vary across conversions.