Research into the impact of the dairy expansion on
Canterbury's environment has been called for.
Speaking to Courier Country after meeting Federated Farmers
North Canterbury's executive, Labour's primary industries
spokesman Damien O'Connor said research was urgently needed
into the rapidly growing dairy industry's long-term effects
on groundwater and aquifers.
''There are some big irrigation investments through the
Waimakariri and Rakaia rivers which is good for the dairy
"We support good water storage schemes, but there's a need to
look at ways of funding good research into the effects of
intensive dairying on light country.
''The clear message I took from the meeting is that farmers
don't want to have a negative impact on water in the city
''The intensification has happened quite quickly, but the
effects on groundwater are still unclear and could be quite
disastrous if anything goes wrong.''
Christchurch's drinking water came from underground aquifers
which were fed by groundwater from the Canterbury Plains. The
water supplies of other Canterbury towns were also fed by
Mr O'Connor said there was a general acceptance that
Canterbury needed to have ''a balanced rural economy'', with
a ''healthy grain and seed industry'' and there was urgent
need for reform in the meat industry.
''While the solutions are not clear, there needs to be
someone driving that quickly and firmly.''
He said there were too many layers in the meat industry,
which meant farmers were not getting clear market signals and
there was evidence of ''traders who are arguably doing better
than the farmers''.
Mr O'Connor said there was a need for a strategic approach to
promote pasture-fed meat, as there were clear market signals
from Europe, the United States and China that consumers
wanted safe food which ''is free of any possible