Opinion: It is election year and it seems that for the environmental groups the gloves are off.

We have seen Greenpeace run a series of fundraising ads vilifying dairy farmers and Forest and Bird pull out of the Land and Water Forum. No surprise that both these organisations are headed by ex-Green politicians. Scuttlebutt is that Forest and Bird will re-join the Land and Water Forum after the election. Greenpeace has yet again been accused of misleading the public.

The truth is that farmers are fully engaged in meeting their environmental responsibilities. Up and down the country I have seen catchment groups working to reduce their impact on water quality and address issues of water allocation.

Dairy farmers have spent more than $1 billion on fencing, riparian planting and effluent management upgrades while their dryland cousins have been the main contributors in signing on to QEII Trust covenants worth an estimated $1.2 billion, including the economic opportunity which has been foregone. But there is a lot more going on.


Farmers, through their levies to Beef and Lamb and DairyNZ, are contributing to science research to reduce the production of greenhouse gases as well as spending tens of millions of dollars per year on Tb control, which also helps in the fight to save our birds through possum and predator control.

Farmers care about their land and it shows.

Recent reports from Sir Peter Gluckman, the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor, and from the Ministry for the Environment, show that farmers are just one part of the water puzzle and while it will take years, even decades, to reach the quality targets we are on that journey.

What is more the penny is finally starting to drop for the media and they have started to articulate the farmer's side of the story. Perhaps the super-hype from those who want to paint farmers as the villain is just wearing a little thin. Perhaps the tourism industry, with its claim of number one export slot, is a new tall poppy to cut down.

Federated Farmers has pushed for the science to back up our actions and that is starting to emerge. We've insisted that if you want change you need to engage farmers, not enrage them. Farmers hate been told what to do but give them a problem and they want to fix it. They see the problem and they are fixing it.

The rest of New Zealand now needs to get behind them.

- National Farming Review