New Zealand’s Biggest Bludgers, Farmers

The Herald has an editorial that goes on about how we can’t swim in our rivers because farmers are polluting the hell out of them.

It is appalling that so many of our rivers are not clean enough for swimming. The Ministry of the Environment has found the water quality at more than half the recreational spots it monitors to be poor or very poor. A further 28 per cent were fair, which carried a risk of illness for anyone swimming there.

The Herald has got it right. Farmers will have to bear the cost of making water fit for our kids to swim in. They are the ones polluting the water, and they are the ones who should stop the pollution and pay for the clean up, not the rest of us.

Farmers moaning is just what we expect, so we can expect a concerted moan about how farmers won’t be profitable if they aren’t allowed to keep getting free water and keep polluting our water ways. They should be told firmly to piss off, because we are not a socialist country and we don’t believe in subsidies.

Polluting our waterways is just a form of subsidy for a pack of bludgers. Letting them have a public good, water, free of charge, to make a private profit, is another form of bludging.

Farmers should stop bludging and New Zealand should stop propping up bludging businesses that can’t sustain themselves if they are forced to pay the true costs of doing business. And Farmers also should stop moaning because you are about as sanctimonious as the Greens.


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  • 2ndAmendment

    Fucken excellent satire Whale, best I’ve seen in a long time.

    (so good that I did for half a minute consider that you might be serious)

  • cows4me

    You seem somewhat confused. Maori make a claim on the waterways and they are told that water belongs to no one. Farmers on the other hand should have to pay for water used because the government claims they own the water. What is it to be? Some farmers already pay for water, I for one do not and never will. Most of the pollution effecting waterways is the result of the high use of nitrogen fertilisers. Of course limiting the use of nitrogen will decrease the pollution but in the same breath will lower the GDP. I personally use no nitrogen and have not done so for quite a few years but my farming methods are not conventional. It can be done but we will all result in all being a bit poorer.

    • Michael Ward

      Actually, the maori’s are told water belongs to everyone, not no one.

      Polluters should be made to pay not because the government owns the water but because everyone does.

    • JimboBug

      If the full costs of using nitrogen were being paid by farmers then farmers who farm unconventionally and take better stewardship of the land would be rewarded for doing so.

      And it isn’t that no one owns the water … it is that everyone owns it. And, as such, it is beholden on everyone to pay for use of this resource.

  • Will

    It’s a bit rich being told to stop moaning and bludging from someone who does it professionally. Dairy farmers are working on it, have a little patience.

  • ben

    The dairy farmers have been taking a number of steps, Fonterra refuses to pick up if all Waterways are not fenced off, the whole Horizons saga is a debate about who is responsible for what going into our waterways and the city slickers can be just as bigger culprits for water pollution, so it is unfair to single out farmers, if farmers are caught discharging into waterways the penalties are serious

    • david W

      @disqus_OG88vub0W3:disqus you say “Fonterra refuses to pick up if all Waterways are not fenced
      off” yeah right what planet are you on? I have worked in and around
      dairying for a decade or two. See many, many. many waterways that are
      not fenced and fonterra still pick up the milk. What Fonterra says and
      what Fonterra does are two quite separate things !

  • Michael Ward

    “They should be told firmly to piss off, because we are not a socialist country and we don’t believe in subsidies.”

    If only…

  • Winkelmann

    “The Ministry of the Environment has found the water quality at more than half the recreational spots it monitors to be poor or very poor.”

    This is misleading. They only monitor a small percentage of spots that they already think are at risk.

    • david W

      @winkelmann:disqus Right so that is why all the lakes that are within driving distance of
      my home are unfit to swim in because they are all polluted… so they
      are at risk lakes…. they are still polluted. ALL of them (well expect
      the one that is an old open pit mine that if fine to swim in, it has
      minimal (no?) dairy farms in its catchment)

      • Winkelmann

        Yeah I’m not saying that’s not true. It is just misleading to make it sound like half of all recreational spots are poor or very poor.

  • Sarrs

    Ok, I admit that farmers cause a great deal of pollution buuut, please bear with me for a moment.
    The situation hasn’t changed that much since 1993 when NIWA said “”lowland river reaches in agriculturally developed catchments are in poor condition” reflecting “agriculturally derived diffuse and point source waste inputs in isolation or in addition to urban or industrial waste inputs”

    Ok so that was on wiki and the external link doesn’t work but I still maintain that water quality over time hasn’t decreased proportionately to the number of farms (in particular dairy farms) added.

    I really and firmly believe that this issue is borne more from the ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mindset, rather than intentional pollution with no willingness to hear about the implications. Some may have that attitude but most don’t. I’ve said it it before in another comment – farming is going through now what the construction industry went through when we found out asbestos and lead paint were killing everyone.

  • farmgirl

    Forget worrying about cowshit and nitrates from farms.

    If you live in Auckland and drink the tap water, half of it comes from the lower Waikato River. It is mixed in with Hunua water.

    Into it, Hamilton City has poured all its lavatory waste after filtering out the big bits.

    In this is included all the drugs previously taken by the people of Hamilton, legal or illegal. They are still pretty much fully pharmaceutically active and medically potent.

    You think you don’t take drugs? Wrong. You think you would never swallow female hormones? Wrong.

    A scientific study about a decade ago found 83% of the pollution in the river when it exits Hamilton was not there when it entered. And it was deposited there by Hamilton Councils, or by permissions from Councils.

    Which of course helps explain why they like to make a fuss about farm wastes.

    • david W

      @disqus_ezLPjLr72g:disqus very interested to read the study you say about 83% of pollutants. I would ask what pollutants they measured for – hyrdrocarbons only? Beat that they didn’t put does nitrogen or other nutrient run off. But open mind, will with hold judgement until read the study.

  • david W

    two decades ago the EU decided to not allow many milk products into its boarders that had been made with SCC (somatic cell count) > 400 000 / ml. They basically did it as a trade barrier, under the guise of animal health. That is because if your tank SCC is higher than 400 000 you basically have a reasonably large number of sick cows (can’t remember exact percentages). Up to this point dairy companies had been saying they wanted low SCC milk, vets saying it was good idea, everyone agreed it was good to have low SCC levels. What was NZ average, somewhere between 1 – 2 million. When the regulations where phased in saying had to have > 400 000 there was debate whether is was actually possible for the average farm to get so low. People predicted the end of farming.

    A decade later – bulk SCC are consistently and routinely below 400 000. the national average over all the season is inthe 300 – 350 range (from memory). So what farmers wouldn’t do voluntary and argued against and wasn’t possible and still be competitive has now become the industry norm due to regulation.

    Farmers are like the rest of us, without regulation of what is permissible they will continue to pollute

  • Bruno 32

    Come on whale,give us a break. Next you will be wanting us to pay tax.

  • Travis Poulson

    “They should be told firmly to piss off, because we are not a socialist country…..” Oooooh yess we are…..

  • Jimmie

    As long as the end consumer is happy to pay extra for their dairy products then I am sure that farmers could learn to manage using lower levels of N fertilizer.

    It is a bit of a scape goat as urban councils are no better – think Horowhenua DIstrict Council recently that had raw effluent discharging whenever the wind blew in SHannon.

    What about the Wanganui DIstrict Council that used to pump raw effluent out to sea.

    How about the paper mill in Kawerau that discharges treated waste into the Tarawera river.

    Above Kawerau it is an absolute pristine river – below it is known as the black drain.

    How about hunters walking around crapping everywhere in the bush.

    What about Auckland City Effluent – where does that end up?

    Plenty of other polluting sectors in NZ.

    Maybe you should get a membership for greenpeace WO?

  • Patrick Murphy

    Just as soon as all you townies pay to clean up the sewage you dump into the harbours & seas around NZ – building longer pipelines & dumping further out aint the answer. Recycle & reuse.

  • Dan

    I note that the water that town folk use is also free. Paying a water rate is not paying for water, it is paying for the cost of delivering water.

  • Goldie

    But WO – what is “the true cost” of polluted rivers? It is a trade off. Dairying and sheep and beef farming return about half of NZ’s total merchandise export receipts, which directly and indirectly employs hundred of thousands of people and makes us all a lot richer. That is traded off versus the social cost of people being able to swim at certain points in rural rivers. Sure polluted rivers is a cost, but it is a cost that is considerably outweighed by the benefit of having farming.
    It is no different in principle from people who drive cars in cities. They produce pollution and create traffic accidents. But the overall benefit of people being able to drive cars outweighs the social cost.

  • tspoon

    The methodology of that study could not be described as flawed. A completely and total lie would be a more accurate description. To be honest you should know better than to believe what you read in that rag Cam. Although even I’m disappointed that a government department is involved in deception of this level.

    Anyhow, on to the facts, as revealed by a slightly less ideologically driven public body, the Taranaki Regional Council:

    “Taranaki people can be confident about water quality at most popular swimming spots in the region, despite many being assigned poor grades in a newly released national report, says the Taranaki Regional Council.

    The Ministry for the Environment grades are based mainly on the hypothetical risks arising from how the surrounding land is used, rather than actual monitoring results, says the Council’s Director-Environment Quality, Gary Bedford. In other words, it is essentially a desktop exercise that should in no case be used where an actual, properly conducted measurement programme exists, such as in Taranaki.

    Mr Bedford says the Council’s own monitoring involves regular analysis of water samples over the summer season. Actual results show that:

    For the past two summers, water quality at popular freshwater bathing spots has been the best in a decade.

    At the 16 freshwater bathing sites monitored during summer 2011-2012, only 22 of 207 samples exceeded the national “action” guideline for bathing water bacterial contamination – the lowest level of non-compliance for 11 years.

    Of the 22 samples that exceeded the guideline, 19 were from just three sites – Lake Rotomanu, Waiwhakaiho River near Lake Rotomanu, and Te Henui Stream mouth – where wildfowl are the major source of contamination.

    Coastal bathing monitoring results are consistently better than the national average. In 2011-2012, more than 94% of samples were within national guidelines for bacteria levels.

    Mr Bedford says the fact that dairying is the main activity in Taranaki ring-plain river catchments means that the region will never be given good grades under the Ministry’s system, regardless of the actual measured water quality results.”

    So there you have it. In one of the countries’ most intensively farmed provinces, around 10% of water samples exceeded guidelines, 19 of 22 not from man made sources. The government department staff releasing this scaremongering (budget raising) drivel should be sacked and made to get a real job.