Using science and technology to inform sustainable farming practices and reduce adverse environmental impacts will have better outcomes than taxes will, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.
Reacting to today’s announcement from the National Party that it will invest $20 million in what was the Sustainable Farming Fund and is now the Future of Farming Fund, Chapman says this will do more in perpetuity than an arbitrary water tax.
“National made this announcement on a horticulture property near Levin where science and technology are being used to inform and enhance the environmental sustainability of growing food,” Chapman says.
“One of the Sustainable Farming Fund projects Don’t Muddy the Water has a focus on keeping soil in the paddock and out of the waterways, this is a win for the environment and for farmers and growers.
“This research will quantify the effectiveness of sediment control on cultivated land and is an example of working proactively with regional councils.
“This property is also part of a three-year Freshwater Improvement Fund project: Protecting our Groundwater – Measuring and Managing Diffuse Nutrient Losses from Cropping Systems.
“Environmental sustainability is paramount as it relates to freshwater and horticulture growers are very aware of this. This project will give us really useful information to target on-farm management practices to meet environmental expectations.
“Ultimately, we are looking to give growers the tools to manage and reduce their environmental footprint and long-term, robust data and science will allow us to do that.
“Food consumers world-wide are increasingly wanting information about the environmental impacts of the food supply chain, particularly when it comes to healthy food such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Our growers are mainly intergenerational family businesses with a lot of collective knowledge about cropping systems and the environment. Working with them, rather than punishing them with taxes that are not even related to good environmental outcomes, will have the most positive impact on reaching whatever targets a new government sets.
“Horticulture New Zealand supports sound, consistent water policy to support efficient use of water and we have issued our own such policy (available here).”
Attached graphic demonstrates how silt traps and riparian planting are used on horticulture properties to keep soil in the paddock and out of the waterways.