Comment: Derek Daniel, a Wairarapa farmer and one of New Zealand's leading sheep breeders, challenges the government's thinking on water, biodiversity, trees and climate change. His take home message - don't handicap food production with stupid regulations.
I believe, over the past few years, that food producers in New Zealand have been subjected to a relentless smear campaign by lobby groups, media and the government.
In my opinion, the general public has been brainwashed to think that our food production needs radical change.
This Blame Game has focused on GHG emissions, water quality, and biodiversity. It's time to put the record straight.
Over half of this country is in trees, mountains, natural cover. All farming is 39 per cent of total land area.
How is New Zealand going to earn a high standard of living? What happened to "the Switzerland of the Pacific"? Is Auckland really the powerhouse of the economy? How would Auckland get on as a separate nation like Singapore?
Contradictions, double standards, symbolic gestures
"The Environment" has become a religion for some people. I believe lobby groups get their funding by creating anxiety. The Green Party gets most of its votes from wealthy electorates, so the rich, who tend to have the most GHG emissions from driving and flying, can appease their consciences.
New Zealand has clean water
Google lists New Zealand as one of seven nations with the cleanest water in the world.
What's the prize for being cleaner than that? There is an annual swimming race in the Waikato river through Hamilton, though the race stops short of the sewer outlet. Auckland beaches are swimmable some of the time. How many rivers in New Zealand are not swimmable? There are problems with E. coli sometimes, but that is usually because of birds.
Double standards apply: cities escape severe fines for breaches of sewage and stormwater regulations, but food producers get hammered.
Another contradiction in the official line is "that sediment is bad".
But where did human civilisations set up? Today there is huge angst in Vietnam about the Chinese building more dams on the headwaters of the Mekong river, because the annual floods bring new soil to farmers in Vietnam, renewed fertility.
There is huge pressure to keep animals out of waterways here, yet the same people enjoy watching large animals in Africa playing in rivers and lakes.
Three tonne hippos live in the water. Strangely enough, Africa has 22 times the number of freshwater fish species than New Zealand, 1,279 versus 58. Nutrient feeds life. Other countries fly fertiliser onto lakes to feed plant life to grow bigger fish.
• Do "greenies" understand the big picture? Big animals live in African rivers and there are 1279 species of freshwater fish, compared to 58 in New Zealand's barren rivers, where the water is too clean.
• Native fish in New Zealand thrive in unfenced pools in well developed farmland, where "piranha like" brown trout are not present, and more nutrients are in the water.
• And Australian police have detained more than two hundred people who have deliberately lit fires… but global warming gets blamed.
I believe New Zealand has always had poor biodiversity.
At their peak, livestock were grazed over 60 per cent of New Zealand's land area. That's down to 37 per cent now.
Large areas have reverted to scrub and native bush, and many hectares have been retired by DoC or donated by food producers as QE2 covenants. Some species of native birds have grown in numbers, and some species have self introduced.
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Derek Daniell on The Country about "Sink or swim?" below:
Why I think taxing methane is theft
• It is unjust. It fails to recognise the natural carbon cycle.
• It is unscientific. The method of assessing the levels of methane from ruminants is flawed.
• It is unfair. The assumptions are based on figures that are officially + or – 50 per cent.
• It is unlawful. The Paris Agreement said to exclude food production.
• It is economic madness. Why leg-rope the sector leading the recovery?
The Paris Accord has a goal of stabilising GHG emissions in a way that does not reduce food production.
New Zealand agriculture has complied with those requirements since 1990. In my opinion, New Zealand is squandering its land resource, with no planning around food security for a population which is increasing by two per cent per year.
The ETA is and earnest attempt to align New Zealand's GHG emissions with the Paris Accord. But subsidising tree growing is not changing behaviour around the use of fossil fuels.
Consider the actions of much richer countries: Norway has not stopped exploration for oil and gas; Singapore has not reduced air traffic through Changi airport, or shipping through its port.
New Zealand is naive to think that it can be a world leader in reducing man made climate change. Shooting yourself in the foot hurts.
Trees are good?
A thirty year crop is a big risk. Log values over the past thirty years have been low more often than high.
Eighty per cent of our export logs currently go to China, where almost all of them are milled for boxing around concrete, used, then burnt. So much for capturing carbon - it's a farce!
Is logging sustainable seventeen times in five hundred years?
Pine trees have damaging effects on soils, streams, aquatic life, and inshore fisheries - and logging trash ruins beaches.
It is a very expensive process to reinstate food productions on logged-over areas.
You can't eat wood.
Reinventing New Zealand?
With the odd exception, New Zealand is now led by people who have never been hungry, never fought in a war, and never run a business. Will we have the discipline, as our forefathers did, to rebuild at an affordable cost?
The current government is engaged in granting an extra holiday, and five more days of sick leave. "Let's stop moving"…
Meanwhile, new immigrants are fast taking over ownership of the best cashflow businesses, because they work hard, and avoid employment and overtime costs by working within the family.
Politicians pander to the bottom 20 per cent of society while imposing more and more cost on businesses. How is New Zealand going to compete on the world stage?
New Zealand's productivity crisis
• The internal cost structure to build houses and roads is well above what our export sector can afford.
• Endless environmental reports. What percentage of NZ's 94,000km of roads are an "environmental disaster"?
• 15 years to action an irrigation scheme while costs double and triple.
• Every extra bureaucrat has to justify his/her existence. The regulators are breeding.
• Symbolic gesture: banning exploration for oil and gas will lead to more imported energy.
• Economy held together by productivity increase in the agricultural sector.
• You will pay indirectly for the carbon credits paid to rich people who plant trees. One estimate is $7,000 per household.
• The planet is overstocked with people, the root of all our problems? Cap New Zealand's population at 5 million.
• New Zealand's Paris Accord targets: remove ruminant emissions. Remove the government guarantee of carbon credit payments for planting trees.
• Continue oil and gas exploration, target self- sufficiency.
• Impose a significant entry charge on tourists. Increase foreign visitor charges for all tax payer created facilities, e.g. Aotearoa trail. It works in Bhutan.
• New Zealand agriculture is more regenerative of soil fertility than most countries in the world. Don't handicap food production with stupid regulations.
• Derek Daniell is a Wairarapa farmer and one of New Zealand's leading sheep breeders