“The so-called ‘pragmatic proposal’ to reduce agricultural emissions released by the government yesterday fails to curb emissions in a significant way and instead locks rural Aotearoa into a pathway of further industrialisation and loss of community life” says Urs Signer, member of Climate Justice Taranaki.
“50% of our emissions are directly from agriculture. The intensification and industrialisation of the dairy industry – fuelled by importing feed from overseas and the use of synthetic fertilisers like urea – in Taranaki and elsewhere has increased our emissions while having a negative impact on the local environment. The creeks and streams are struggling, there is a loss of biodiversity and rural communities are literally disappearing with the closure of schools, shops, community halls due to a population decline. While the adverse impacts on our atmosphere can be measured, the social impacts are often forgotten” says Signer.
“Our group sat down with unions, councils and the oil and gas industry to work on a just transition plan for the fossil fuel sector. We now need to do the same for the dairy industry. Rather than exporting 95% of dairy as a cheap commodity to be sold on the international stock market, we need to work together to localise and diversify our food production. When a dairy farmer on 200ha struggles to pay the bills, meanwhile market gardeners can grow vegetables on half an acre creating three full-time jobs while feeding the local community, it is clear that the agricultural sector has been pushed and trapped into a system created by the banks, farm advisors and industry lobby groups that is failing our planet, rural communities and our local environment.”
“We need an immediate stop to the import of palm kernel feed made from rainforest destruction in Borneo. We need to ban the import of phosphate from war-torn Western Sahara. We need to stop using synthetic fertilisers made from fossil gas or ‘green’ hydrogen. Most importantly, we need to work together in rural communities to shift towards regenerative agriculture by diversifying our production, retire land for indigenous reforestation and re-build thriving communities” concludes Urs Signer.