MEDIA RELEASE: Protesting farmers have their heads in the mud

“The Groundswell protest today shows just how stuck in the mud some farmers are when it comes to moving with the times. That after decades of scientific evidence and easily felt changes here on farms in Aotearoa, some people still call climate change a hoax or not man made really speaks volumes of how detached they are from the rest of the world” says Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki.

“This country’s rural and agricultural sector has been hard hit by floods, intense storms and droughts this year alone, costing millions in damages and loads of stress and heartbreak for those losing homes, sheds, stock and fences. It’s only getting worse and farmers can either adapt and rapidly bring down their emissions or they and everyone else will suffer more.”

“We know at least 50% of our emissions are directly from agriculture, not even counting the international emissions from an industry that exports 80-95% of their products. There is direct correlation with the rise in emissions and colonial land theft and the rise of fossil fuel use and the industrial period of machines, agricultural chemicals and mass deforestation. Climate change is undoubtedly man made. We can stick our heads in the mud and moan about not wanting to change anything and suffer more, or we can get on with rapid transition now.”

“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 and community halls due to a population decline. While the adverse impacts on our atmosphere can be measured, the social impacts are often forgotten” says Urs Signer of Climate Justice Taranaki.

“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 fertiliser made from fossil fuels or hydrogen. Most importantly, we need to work together in rural communities to shift away from exports towards regenerative agriculture for local markets by diversifying our production, retiring farm land for indigenous reforestation and re-building once thriving communities” concludes Signer.