Farmers urged to lock out anglers, hunters

A popular farming publication wants farmers to lock out fishers and hunters over what it calls an anti-dairying attitude by their governing body.

The editorial in the latest edition of Rural News was a blunt message to Fish and Game New Zealand - namely in answer to a recent independent survey the organisation commissioned.

The survey found that most respondents believed dairy farming had worsened the quality of fresh waterways, and that intensive dairying had gone too far.

Rural News, which has a readership of 175,000, said it was clear that the fishers' and hunters' governing body had "no respect or regard for the dairy farming sector, and therefore do not want to be associated with the farming sector - including hunting and fishing on their land".

Fish and Game issues around 150,000 hunting and fishing licences each year.

Farmers should "keep the gates locked" to all hunters and fishers until they could "convince their governing body to drop its adversarial approach to the farming sector and play a more constructive role in working hand-in-hand with the sector".

But Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said Rural News was "bashing the messenger, rather than trying to contemplate the message.

"All such an action would achieve is alienate urban anglers and hunters who, let's face it, are probably the most numerous members of urban New Zealand who interface with farmers and hence become rural New Zealand's best ambassadors back into the urban population."

Other reports, including one by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment last year, had highlighted similar concerns with farming when it came to fresh waterways, Mr Johnson said.

Rural News editor David Anderson said most feedback had been pretty supportive but some people had complained.

Federation of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes said such a combative editorial could only seek to fuel a division between farmers and fishers.

Mr Haynes said there was no argument that intensive agriculture, such as dairy, had a substantial environmental footprint.

"It's all about mitigation and some farmers are better at this than others."

Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills said he was not particularly happy with Fish and Game, which he said seemed locked in a negative view of primary industries that farmers perhaps deserved quite a few years ago.

Dairy New Zealand chief executive Tim Mackle said his organisation acknowledged the newspaper's frustration, but could not back its call for a ban.

- Jamie Morton of the NZ Herald

Still valid

My point is still valid. Statistics shouldn't be misused because that's propaganda. We will have to agree to disagree on this.

Most rivers tested have poor water quality

Re-reading your comments the main point I understand from your repeated use of the phrase 'green propaganda' is that you are mostly interested in attacking the messenger. Rob Fischer clearly made the point early on in the discussion that lumping 'stable' sites in with 'improving' sites is misrepresenting the poor state of our rivers. Sure some improvements are happening, that's good, but unlike you, I am not happy about waiting for some unspecified 'medium term' for significant change to the majority of our polluted rivers.


I am not sure you have understood the points I have made. The question is not whether there is a problem. There is clearly a problem, hence plan 6A etc right? If you read my comments below (including the most recent) you will see that I believe there is a problem. 

Keep in mind that there is no magic wand. The damage will take some time to fix so it's a good thing if water is not deteriorating, so long as it does start improving in the medium term. However there are also many places which are recovering better than expected. See this article. It is proof that the Green's fresh water claims are over the top at best . . . [abridged]

Plan 6A needs to be enforced

Poor, or very poor water quality and stable (ie not getting any better) is a problem! You don't seem to get that. That is why I want to know the breakdown of the '90% are stable or improving' statistic. Plan 6A will only help if it's enforced and it's not nationwide.

Hook line and sinker

vivk: I happen to know the answer because I read beyond the Green party propoganda: 90% of rivers are stable or improving according to this years MfE report, hence the Green Party propoganda got you hook line and sinker because they only report a single statistic from the overall report and ignore the key findings of the same report. I am sure we can agree that the problem here is that 10% are deteriorating and that needs to be fixed by plan 6A.

How many rivers are 'very poor' and not improving?

So the Green's press releases are 'propaganda' while Fonterra public relations publications are facts? You can't have it both ways. Yes, I am familiar with the MFE site. Last year they reported that 61% of monitored sites were 'poor' or 'very poor'. What I would like to know is how many of those are 'stable' and how many are 'improving'. Surely that's the crux. If most of the 'very poor' sites aren't getting better then the Greens are right to say there is a problem.


marious: Access has not actually been blocked, despite this editorial.

vivk: Send them again, I am sure they can do something about it. The propoganda is in taking individual statistics from an overall report and using them to make a point not supported by the rest of the evidence. The fact they ignore the on going improvements is also relevant though. Have you seen Or These have facts which show the actual problem and a few of the solutions under way.  It took me all of five seconds to find this on Fonterra's website 


Are the rivers clean or not?

Dairy returns have become New Zealands biggest export earner. The price we may pay to waterways for this return is, we hope, policed by our regoinal councils. If these councils are concerned about the state of waterways from monitoring programmess or public complaints then the farmers concerned will find they are subject to more control in order to deal with their pollution problems.

This process seems ongoing with good and not so good results . More monitering must be welcomed. If fishers or hunters are being shut out in order to hide such pollution problems then we all have a problem.

Questions need to be asked of regional councils if rivers continue to be affected as their management of the water ways concerned needs to improve. Public complaint can only improve the situation for all. By now most dairy farmers will have the situation well controlled and have nothing to hide from hunters, fishers or the public at large?

Resonable access for such recreational activities therefore should not be an issue and continue as of old. 


Talking about state of rivers not propaganda

I sent the cows in stream photos in 2011. The Greens omitting references to farm expenditure when talking about river quality does not make their statements on this country's many polluted waterways 'propaganda'.

That's the thing

That's the thing vivk. Farmers agree it's not right and they have invested big money in fixing the problem, which is the part that isn't being reported by the greens - hence the green's version is propoganda.

60% unswimable is very poor

60% unswimable and stable is not good, and just because you get annoyed doesn't mean those statistics should be kept quiet. You seem to be one of those who object to anything the Greens say (going by your comments on other posts). I sent photos of the cows in the stream to the ORC in October 2012. They wrote back that they couldn't do anything about it then. I am pleased the new rules are coming into effect now.

Cows come home

Yes vivk, the cowboys will soon have some issues. You know you can do something about cows in the stream now, regardless of Plan 6A? Urban dwellers will have the same accountability to fresh water soon too, as you mention. The propoganda part of the greens is the selective statistics they trumpet without bothering to tell the full story. Green Party and Greenpeace couldn't do more to discredit the green movement if they tried - it annoys me no end. You can't take a report with a key finding saying 90% of rivers are stable or improving and twist it by using a single statistic within the report to say 60% of rivers are unswimmable. Talk about focus on the negative. Not exactly conducive to real world solutions.

Water quality must be measured.

Sv3nn0- I live in the country. On one side of my road the farmers have planted riparian strips, on the other side the cows stand in the stream. Thanks to the ORC water plan 6A, the water quality upstream and downstream of urban and rural properties will soon be tested. If farming (or urban waste) practices do not cause an increase in measured pollutants over certain limits, then all well and good. If pollutants are above the limits then changes must be made to the activities being carried out on that land.
It's not "green propaganda" that many of our rivers are polluted.

Point not only taken, but made

vivk: Point well made, point well taken, but at this stage I don't think you will have any problems and you don't know unless you ask. When you make your farm visit just bear in mind that there may be other
genuine reasons to block access such as stock in the paddock, hazards etc. Most farmers are happy to give access though - as the anglers and hunters know. Visits such as yours are the best way to mitigate the effects of urbanisation of New Zealand which is resulting much of the public being disconnected from the rural perspective.

Both the rural newspaper in question and some commenters here need to learn things work better when co-operating and communicating facts rather than being entrenched in opinion and adversarial (especially from the computer keyboard). I think the green lobby succeeded here in getting a reaction from the usually more measured rural sector which on this case stooped to the greenies propoganda level.

Missing the point

sV3nn0: “Go and actually have a look Viv, and while asking for permission to cross the land”.

Well, I’d have to hope that any farmers I asked weren’t taking the advice of the Rural News editorial and were saying “No” to people crossing their land to get to the rivers, which was the main point of the article .

Fischer 0, Greens 0.

Fischer you are doing what the Greens do - taking the statistics and twist them. By your own admission a key finding was that 90% are stable or improving! To take individual parts of an overall report is patently misleading. Anyway, you only need to go to your nearest three or four Fonterra farms and look at what has been done in terms of environmental stewardship in the last 10 years to get proof that most farmers aren't sitting back doing nothing. No wonder farmers are annoyed that credit is not given where credit is due, especially as they have taken responsibility where responsibility is due.

Swimmable rivers

Go and actually have a look Viv, and while asking for permission to cross the land you should ask what investments they have made to protect the environment over the last 10 years - you may be pleasantly surprised at what is being done. Also, I don't  think farmers are going to actually bar people from access over this. Especially those who care to actually talk to the farmers rather than simply believe the Green party propoganda.

Land Information NZ

@Riley Baker

According to Land Information New Zealand:

"Public access to Crown land may be limited due to a range of activities that are required to be undertaken on Crown land. These include pest control, farming, forestry or commercial recreation.  There are also animal welfare, biosecurity and health and safety considerations"

So regardless if it's private or Crown land they can bar you. 

Greens 1, sv3nn0 0

"Currently, more than 60% of our monitored river sites are too polluted to swim in..."  It is important to note that the report this is from also says 90% are improving."

Perhaps it does - you haven't identified the report. However, the latest (July 2013) figures for river conditions show that that 90% are "STABLE or improving" (see here).

Reading MfEs graph the same way but combining the stable and deteriorating categories (using the graph of the 10 year trend analysis), I could argue that around 80% of sites are deteriorating. As you say, you can use statistics to tell any story but with most sites experiencing no improvement in the last 10 years and the general quality being very poor, I'm more convinced by the Greens' argument than yours.

Queens Chain

Riely, I think you are refering to what used to be called the Queens Chain which refers to a 22 yard buffer between water's edge and private property.

It does not as you refer allow unfettered access through private property but it's intention was to allow unrestricted access along the water way, various councils have paper roads across private property that landowners must make avaiable, most councils and some fishing websites show these paper roads and list their locations.


Show us the clean rivers

If the farmers are confident that their farming practices are not adding to water pollution, then they should unlock the gates, let the anglers and hunters in and show them that the rivers are clean. Mr Willis is suggesting that the negative view of dairy farming is out of date - so prove
there is nothing to hide and show us the clean, swimmable rivers.

Over the top

No need to ban the individuals. Fish and Game's loaded questions in the survey are plain for all to see. As is the Green Party's extremely misleading statistical argument: "Currently, more than 60% of our monitored river sites are too polluted to swim in..."  It is important to note that the report this is from also says 90% are improving. I guess you can use statistics to tell any story. Especially since there are only 650 monitored sites around the country, not all of which are fresh water.

Two other points that are never mentioned - the main one being that farmers have long ago taken responsibility and mitigated the effects by use of effluent ponds, fencing waterways, plantings etc. The above report has data ending at 2009 so further improvements surely can be expected. I doubt that will make headlines as easily as the Green's stale data though. 

The second point is that rarely is urban water quality discussed.

NZ law

I'm pretty hazy on NZ law, but isn't there something about all land X distance around a waterway is crown land and access to it can not be barred?

Truth seems to hurt

The evidence is clear -  as dairy cow numbers have increased the quality of our waterways has deteriorated. The "farming " paper should be putting more energy into promoting ways to reduce damage rather than promoting conflict.

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