Te Awamutu under threat if ‘greenies’ get way: MP
By Grant Johnston
Farmers and Te Awamutu people in general should be following the debate on greenhouse gasses and carbon credits with great interest, says local MP Shane Ardern.
In fact, they should not just be following it but participating at every opportunity, he told the Courier when he was in town on Friday.
“If some of these greenies get their way, Te Awamutu would disappear - it would almost certainly lose its dairy factory which is vital to the town’s existence.”
Mr Ardern says the rhetoric about the polluting effects of dairy farms was often a case of “not letting the scientific facts get in the way of a good story”.
“The concept that a dairy cow eats something pure and secretes something completely toxic is simply not credible. The scientific figures show that a native forest produces two to three kilograms per hectare of nitrate runoff, that goes to five kilograms for pinus radiata and for an unplanted, intensively farmed dairy farm with high fertiliser levels it goes to 25 kilograms. On a dairy farm with well established, well planted riparian margins, that figure can be reduced to about four kilograms.”
Mr Ardern’s own Taranaki dairy farm has seen about $100,000 worth of fencing, bridges and planting.
“Farmers generally are good conservationists - they’re certainly not environmental vandals. They have had it instilled in them from an early age to leave the land in a better state than they found it in.”
Mr Ardern said this was particularly true in the Waikato - where kiwis have ‘out-Englanded England’.
“Sure, trees lock up carbon, but this debate is not as black and white as those running this campaign against dairy farming would have us believe. The campaign has the potential to be hugely detrimental to our export industries - factories like Te Awamutu’s would find it much harder to profit and exist.”
Mr Ardern says Prime Minister Helen Clark made much in her opening address to Parliament recently about the Government trading in Ford Fairlanes for more environmentally friendly cars.
“That’s good but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of deforestation currently occurring. For the first time in 50 years New Zealand is cutting down more trees than it is planting. The forestry industry has no confidence in the future -including the Government’s own SOE. It’s interesting that Australia still has forestation raking place when we’re selling to the same markets. In New Zealand there have been six or seven major wood processing proposals that have all been turned down in the Resource Management Act process. Australia is not only giving resource consents to its timber industry, but providing tax incentives as well.”
Mr Ardern stands by his line of recent years - that New Zealand should never have signed the Kyoto Agreement.
“We produce just .002 of a percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions - swapping from Fairlanes to Skodas is not going to make a hell of a lot of difference.”