Is it time to end big Dairy in New Zealand?

By   /   November 22, 2017  /   27 Comments

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…should we start asking is it time to end big Dairy in NZ?

Rachel Stewart’s blistering attack on big Dairy’s latest ridiculous propaganda campaign is brutal…

While some will argue that I do this in most columns, my first inclination this week was to vomit all over the page and submit it to my editor, along with a suggested headline of ‘Fonterra spin causes extreme nausea’.

But, no. Ever the professional, I hurled in the privacy of my own home before sitting down to do my job. I have a bucket close by as I write, because the waves of biliousness will no doubt keep washing over me as I relive the farce that is the state of Fonterra’s communications.

…Fonterra’s latest propaganda campaign is to pretend to care about the environment now a Left wing Government is in power. It follows their bullshit nationalistic TV adverts where Richie McCaw tells us how proud he is and follows a legal attempt to block Greenpeace from showing NZers what big Dairy really do to the NZ environment.

This attempt to pacify legitimate concerns about the impact of big Dairy on the environment hilariously coincides with Farmers being ‘fed up’ with the environmental commotion and when they are attacking any media that focuses on their impact. On top of this, Farmers are now sending in their corporate scientists to attack the credibility of scientists exposing environmental damage. 

The critique of the latest greenwash by Fonterra is already in and it is pretty damning…

Rod Oram looks this week at Fonterra’s apparently ground-shifting announcement about reducing its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050. He writes Fonterra’s caveats mean the plan is not as impressive as it looks.

…so should we start asking is it time to end big Dairy in NZ?

Environmentally big Dairy steal water, pollute water and create enormous amounts of green house gases which are adding to a dangerous warming of the planet.

This chart tells us we can’t keep warming the planet.

Politically big Dairy gain too much power by running their own Political Party in the form of the National Party to pass policy in their interests and not for NZs wider interests and because we are so dependent on China for this industry, that brings an economic dependence that is dangerous.

Economically it makes no sense to continue investing in big Dairy when synthetic milk and meat are on the horizon.

We can allow organic Dairy to continue which is a far less intensive and damaging to create boutique product, but intensive farming and the influence big Dairy has over our economy, politics and environment must be ended.

We need to start transitioning away from Dairy towards forestry and more fruit and vegetable production but that requires an active Government who is prepared to incentivise the change over.


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  1. Me says:

    They are going to milk it for as long as they can but their days are numbered. Chickenless chicken is already in the stores, I can’t wait to try meatless meat and dairy free dairy can’t be far off.

    We do have very good ice cream here which I would miss but if we just had a few of the smaller cleaner farms for high end stuff that wouldn’t be as bad.

  2. esoteric pineapples says:

    “We need to start transitioning away from Dairy towards forestry and more fruit and vegetable production”

    Part of the problem of reliance on dairy is because so many other agricultural products are barely profitable, honey being an exception to the rule.
    Maybe it’s time to get out of agriculture all together except for providing for New Zealand’s own needs and a few profitable other products. Convert the bulk of the land back to native bush, clean up the rivers, bring the tuna (eels) back. Encourage massive numbers of wildlife such as the native ducks that once existed in New Zealand in their millions.

    • Red Buzzard says:

      +100 EP…”Convert the bulk of the land back to native bush, clean up the rivers, bring the tuna (eels) back.

      “We need to start transitioning away from Dairy towards forestry and more fruit and vegetable production”

  3. The sooner the dairy farmers start planning for alternative production, the less the eventual pain. Whether growers and we meat eaters like it or not, eventually the market will shrink drastically.

    Beef, dairy, and lamb will be first to feel the pain. Pork, and especially chicken, are far less damaging to the biosphere, even when farmed humanely.

  4. SpaceMonkey says:

    The synthetic milk is going to kill the dairy industry in NZ, as it currently exists. The only future for dairy in NZ is organic and the production of high-value milk products.

  5. Eleanor Shaw says:

    Is it coincidence that now we have a Labour government,all Fontera products, butter especially have shot up in price, thus causing all bakery products etc to rise in price and enabling the National party to say “told you you`d be worse off with labour” or am I just getting paranoid?

    • Afewknowthetruth says:

      Check the movement of the Kiwi dollar against the US dollar. Over recent times it has dropped from 88c to 68 cents.

      Since NZ is critically dependent on imported fuel which is still priced in US dollars (despite numerous reasons for it not to be) the cost of doing practically everything in NZ rises when oil rises or the Kiwi drops.

      All it will take is another 2008-style price shock for the entire system to collapse. Which is why the controllers are so desperate to keep everything manipulated into narrow ranges.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s coincidence.

      Way back in the days of the sainted and annointed National government this came to light:

      And this:

      Please note the magic line ‘Eighteen months ago French butter began appearing in supermarkets – and we all know whose expert fingers were on the reins at that date.

      Coincidence. Market cycles. Butter mountains in the EU and all that oleaginous stuff. Nothing to do with the barely month old fresh government…

  6. Danyl Strype says:

    Changing practices on the farm starts with changing teaching practice in our agricultural uni and polytech institutions. Organic methods that use polyculture to manage disease and depend on domestic and ideally local sources of fertility, like those taught in permaculture design certificate courses, need to be integrated into all farm training curricula. Efforts have been made, notably at Otago Polytech and more recently at Ucol in the north (, but the transition to organic 2020 – a goal set years ago by Soil and Health – is only a couple of years away, and climate change is only one of many reasons this transition needs to be made ASAP.

  7. Philg says:

    I didn’t realise that voting for swimmable rivers was for the cows! Holy s###.

  8. Gerrit says:

    When one reads on how the artificial milk is made it is clear that it is not as benign as one thinks.

    it requires genetically modified yeast, brewed to produce the milk. By products include alcohol and carbon dioxide (are the Greens not against genetic engineering?).

    “The Muufri lab in Ireland is now cultivating yeast that is growing milk fats and proteins such as casein, after inserting the DNA instructions for these foods into the yeast’s genetic code. They hope to have the first glass to taste in September.”

    Hardly organic.

    One thing to produce a genetically modified yeast and turning it into a glass of milk by altering its DNA in a laboratory. Quite another to scale that up to a production level to match cow milk production.

    The levels of alcohol and carbon dioxide produced are not mentioned but will they be significantly less than produced by cow milk processing? Sure it takes the methane out of the atmosphere by not having cows.

    Be interesting who will invest in constructing the breweries to produce artificial milk and take the laboratory results into production, marketing, distribution and onto sales. Huge upfront costs for a GE product that organically inclined users may not purchase.

    Unless artificial milk is established (using GE yeast), culling the New Zealand dairy herd wont lessen global climate change. The milk market will remain and production will simply shift from New Zealand to places like Chile, China, etc.,etc.

    Maybe a better option is to pay farmers to cull dairy herds and grow soy beans to make milk from?

  9. garibaldi says:

    Rachel continues to expose the truth about the Dairying/Fonterra/FedFarmers/National Party lies. She does it so well and is becoming a major thorn in their side. I am amazed the Herald has not been directed to dump her, as they have always done to others who dared to speak the truth.
    Hopefully her wisdom is being well noticed.

  10. Michelle says:

    The famers have been milking us for ages the amount of money our governments and councils pumped into farming in NZ is unfair especially when we are constantly reminded we have to pay international prices for our cheese. So why do we also have to pay for projects like the Ruitaniwha Dam when we are expected to pay such high prices for cheese etc how much money was wasted on this water storage scheme not just by our government but by the local council. And who was to be the main benefactor and at what costs to our environment. We need to go organics and invest in sustainable farming and food growing practices. There are huge markets for organic foods. We need our government to invest in research and development in this area. We also need to ensure we have sufficient land to do so. We need to keep our population to a level that we can maintain a good standard of living for all by growing our own food. We do not want to end up like China too many people and not enough good land to sustain our people. We need to act now.

    • Red Buzzard says:

      +100…”We need to go organics and invest in sustainable farming and food growing practices. There are huge markets for organic foods. We need our government to invest in research and development in this area.”

  11. Kim dandy says:

    New Zealand needs to diversify – we have the fertile soil and weather to try different products. Hemp for example grows well here and can be used for many purposes – just needs its stigma removed.
    There was a time I never saw avocados, actichokes and many other vegetables that are now prevailent. The same could be said for stock farms – goats, deer.
    I know it is not all that straight forward, as there is always (financial) risk to try new fields, but in the past kiwi ingenuity solved many issues – perhaps, with a supportive government, it can do again.

    • Sam Sam says:

      Sorry to for being blunt, said so many times and in great detail. Hemp is a gateway to serfdom. Go full legalised and regulated marijuana

      • Red Buzzard says:

        +100 to both KIM DANDY and SAM

      • Andrea says:

        Different products entirely.

        And they both need large amounts of water to succeed. We’ve heard that story before.

        There’ll be ways to produce industrial hemp. So long as we’ve educated the producers to moderate their fertiliser and water use.

        We also ought to , should, must, totally and utterly protect and conserve our precious production soils from urban expansion of any kind. And our estuaries/spawning grounds from pollution. And our animals from short hideous lives.

        (Having seen what we’ll tolerate with respect to Syria, Iraq, Manus Island I won’t be sitting in pius hope, that’s for sure. We humans have a lot of false narratives to clear off the table PDQ if we plan to survive.)

        It’s the little things that count the most.

  12. Bugsolutely says:

    There are other choices, we already have Otago Locusts farming insects for high value food with minimal impact and for very little cost we can also farm crickets for a super food and very high returns. I’ve mentioned here before $40 Us a lb. It’s a huge market extended this year to Europe’s 320 million. Just a matter of changing preconceptions. In my experience to date have had two people not like my pasta. No legs no eyes just pasta. And the benefits seem endless. Try some and feel the benefit of a well scoured bowel.

  13. Royce says:

    What is missing in this debate is soil carbon nobody wants to talk about it. If dairy or any other farming sector can prove that they are increasing soil carbon then I would say we should support them never mind the methane and nitrous oxide emissions although there is plenty of work which shows that they could be reduced if farmers wanted too. Increasing soil carbon has so much to offer for example carbon sequestration, moisture retention, nutrient retention less fertiliser use less irrigation. So less floods less impact in dry years. Just feeding cows on grain or swedes instead of grass can reduce methane emissions. There is a breeding program in place which can produce cows which urinate urine with much reduced urea contents. But I would come back to the soil carbon we must put practices in place on our farms that increase soil carbon. Maybe your reader have observed land in Canterbury where irrigation has transformed dusty stony ground into lush pastures. I don’t know if in doing this they have increased soil carbon (Humus) but I sure has hell would want to know. I think the new Govt should start a crash research program to sort this out. My understanding is correct farming practices can sequester 10 tonnes of carbon per hectare bad practice can mean 5 to 10 tonnes per hectare is lost to the atmosphere. There are some very good videos on You Tube on this although you might have difficulty distinguishing the good from the crap which is a problem for anything on the internet.

    • Andrea says:

      “The new Govt should start a crash research program to sort this out.”

      Do we still have the knowledge and skills base to do this? The experienced researchers? Will the funding last the distance? Or will some new flavour of the day come up and the research, plus researcher, be sidelined?

      Would it survive a change of government? Or would we suffer from the curse of market forces in research yet again?

      We could also do with more information on what the nitrogen overloads are doing to the brix of products: are they worth eating? Or just pretty and empty calories?

  14. cleangreen says:

    When water is so polluted we cant drink it, they may wake up and the brain will call out, “what have i done”

    We are near the tipping point.

    • Red Buzzard says:

      +100 CLEANGREEN…

    • Samwise says:

      We could swim in rivers when we were kids. Now it’s a health hazard. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

      Now wait till the rest of the world learns that our “clean and green” image is an utter fraud. Tourists will be wanting refunds!

  15. Cassie says:

    There was NOTHING EVER WRONG about farms.

    BIG BUSINESS =DEATH to small businesses.

    SO FUCK FONTERRA and their CEO.
    FUCK all the BIG CORPORATIONS taking over .
    FUCK the LOT of them.

    SUPERMARKETS under one chain/ownership

    BAD for people.

  16. […] Our diary industry produces huge climate changing pollution at a time when the planet is dangerously warming, they steal fresh water and they pollute fresh water all to create a product that is incredibly expensive for the domestic market to buy and which has synthetic milk and meat industries getting ever closer to making them redundant altogether. […]