Year in Review: Former dairy farmer Malcolm Lumsden's opinion piece on the cows v people pollution question hit home for many readers, making this one of The Country's most popular articles of the year.
Recently while I was in a shop doing business, a very self-righteous lady loudly pronounced that I was one of those irresponsible farmers who allowed their cows to "pee and poo" everywhere resulting in our rivers all being polluted, writes Malcolm Lumsden.
I quietly replied to her that over her lifetime, she would pass as much pee and poo as a cow because she would probably live 11 times longer.
She would also use all manner of chemical substances for her health, washing herself, her clothes, and dishes, all of which would ultimately enter the water via sewage pond discharges.
As well she will send tons of toxic rubbish to landfills, and own vehicles that will pollute the roadside waterways with toxic residues.
She was not impressed with my response. Our rivers were the most polluted in the world she retorted.
I reminded her that by international standards, the Waikato is the fourth cleanest river in the world. In fact I said, my dear old cow Daisy will on a really hot day only consume about 70 litres of water, compared with the urban average usage of 200 to 230 litres per human.
Our 6.4 million dairy cows only drink about 500 million litres per day compared with 4.5 million people using 900 million litres per day.
Daisy I said, will spread her waste naturally on the soil where it will be filtered and used by plants.
On the other hand human waste gets piped away and will basically have the solids removed before being discharged into waterways, chemicals and all. Stormwater is full of nasties from the concrete urban jungles and roads, and goes straight into waterways.
So why, I asked, are you picking on Daisy who lives a toxin-free lifestyle, consumes few resources, and discharges a pittance of what humans do into our environment?
Daisy I suggest is also more productive than most anti-farmer advocates.
Gasping for rebuttal, my lady then said we should become organic farmers. Look at Cuba, they are still growing food and have had no fertiliser for years.
Well I responded, science says organic farming cannot feed the world and needs twice the land of modern farming to produce the same amount while being less environmentally friendly.
But I conceded I would be happy if she wanted to reduce her standard of living to that of the average Cuban with a rate of pay similar to those workers in Cuba. It would certainly reduce my rates bill.
As I walked away, I heard the man behind the desk say to the council lady, "You picked the wrong fella to have an argument with today."
I felt quite uplifted in the knowledge that the argument can be had. The fact is, most good urban folk only get one side of the story.
Green extremists and others such as Dr Mike Joy, who wants all dairy cows removed from New Zealand by 2050, are never challenged as to what this will mean for New Zealand.
Basically they want all meat, milk, and other animal products removed from our diets.
By masquerading as environmental carers, the socialist greens anti-farmer campaign is conditioning people to believe farmers are the enemy of New Zealand.
This is economic sabotage based on populist ill-informed rhetoric that is short on facts and science.
There is no acknowledgement that over the past five years dairy farmers have spent more than $1 billion improving the environment. Despite the anti-farmer misinformation campaign, the environment affects us all.
This rhetoric has infiltrated the Waikato Regional Council's new Plan 1 change which will allow the council to control every farm activity by means of a farm plan resource consent.
The council will dictate land use, stock numbers, fertiliser use, what type of crops may be grown and where, plus much more.
Farmers in Taupo, who are ahead of the rest of the region, are now being told they must provide the council with their annual financial accounts. This amounts to nationalism of agriculture. Urban businesses that have an impact on the environment will be next.
Wake up New Zealand, if agriculture is hobbled by this socialist madness, and New Zealand continues to bite the hand that feeds it, maybe life in Cuba may start to look attractive after all.
• Malcolm Lumsden has been an Ohinewai dairy farmer for 54 years and regional council chairman of the Lower Waikato Catchment Advisory Committee for the past 15 years.