Greenpeace says the Government’s updated intensive winter grazing rulescave in to intensive dairy and are a missed opportunity to improve environmental management and animal welfare.
Greenpeace Aotearoa lead agriculture campaigner Christine Rose, says “the intensive winter grazing rules were supposed to address the adverse impacts of mud farming, but have been weakened and delayed after submissions from the dairy industry.”
“Allowing mud farming to continue puts the interests of the intensive dairy industry ahead of cow welfare, the health of soil, the climate, freshwater and estuaries,” says Rose.
“Minimising muddy pugging, and encouraging timely resowing were key components of the proposed new rules, but have been dropped in favour of undeveloped, unproven and unenforceable ‘special duties’ provisions.”
The changes also remove protection of subsurface drains from intensive grazing, despite these being a known pathway for sedimentation and pollution.
“While the Government has stuck to its guns on a couple of matters – such as restricting the angle of slopes that can be grazed intensively – the fact that critical parts of the rules have been stripped back means we’ll continue to see more intensive farming than the soil, climate, rivers and cows can withstand,” says Rose.
“The amended rules will do little to avoid overstocking and overgrazing, and undermine the Government’s freshwater reforms. The implementation timeframe has also been delayed, meaning another season of mud farming with more environmental damage and more cows living and calving in mud.
“Mud filled paddocks are not only bad for cows and rivers, the soil becomes compacted, lifeless and depleted. The mud that’s left can no longer naturally sustain life and runs off into rivers and groundwater, carrying pollution with it. That in turn requires more synthetic nitrogen fertiliser – also a destructive polluter of rivers, the climate and drinking water – to grow grass in the ruined soil.
“There is simply no place for intensive winter grazing in Aotearoa. For healthy soil, healthy water and healthy communities, we need fewer cows, less synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and no more mud farming,” says Rose.
Over 12,000 people have signed Greenpeace’s petition to end intensive winter grazing.