Greenpeace Calls On New Zealand Government To Halve Dairy Herd

New Zealand's dairy sector, the country's largest polluter, is linked to a host of environmental issues, as well as public health concerns


2 Minutes Read

cows lined up on a dairy farm According to Greenpeace, the New Zealand dairy herd has almost doubled over the last thirty years. - Media Credit: Farlap / Alamy Stock

Greenpeace is petitioning the New Zealand government to put an end to the expansion of industrial dairy farming – New Zealand’s largest climate polluter – following the release of the latest State of Environment report.

The report, which is released every three years, highlights the various pressures of land usage, pollution, and climate breakdown on the environment. The report also quantifies how declining environmental health will go on to impact the wellbeing of the population in New Zealand. 

Urgent need to reduce the impact of industrial farming

“We call on the Government to halve New Zealand’s dairy herd from the 2019 peak of 6.3 million cows, to reduce the impacts of industrial dairying on freshwater, biodiversity, climate, and people’s health,” says Greenpeace.

In addition to polluting the rivers and climate, synthetic nitrogen fertilizer and dairy cow urine are driving causes of nitrate contamination of drinking water. 

Most alarmingly, using nitrate-contaminated water for drinking or food preparation is linked to a range of negative health issues, such as blue baby syndrome. Some studies also suggest that there may be an association between nitrate contamination and an increased risk of colorectal cancer. 

Bolder and faster action required

Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel recently said: “The dairy industry has been telling us they’re cleaning up their act, but the environmental data shows the biggest degradations in rivers, climate, soil, marine coastal areas and drinking water are being caused by industrial dairy and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.”

Now that the stats are in, Greenpeace is calling for the government to phase out synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, lower herd numbers, and support farmers in transitioning to more plant-based, lower impact farming for the good of the climate, rivers, and human health.

Those interested can view Greenpeace’s petition here.

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