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Environment can’t cope with more dairy farms — Russel Norman

NZ's environment can’t cope with more dairy production, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman told TV1’s Q+A programme.

Mr Norman said the Green Party wants to shift the focus to adding more value to raw milk rather than increasing the number of cows.

“We're pushing against the limits in the number of cows.  What we need to do is add value to the existing production, rather than just trying to boost production," the Green co-leader said.

“I don’t think capping the cow limit is necessarily the way you do it, but the way that it will impact is in terms of water quality, in terms of greenhouse emissions, we're up against limits.  What we need to do is value add in dairy and across the economy.  I mean it's not just dairy, it's also the Internet economy, manufacturing, right across the sector.  Forestry, we're exporting most of our trees as raw logs now, there's not a lot of money in that."

He also told Q+A, he wasn’t concerned that the Internet Party would be targeting traditional Green voters.

“The Green Party is a pretty established party, we've been polling over 10% now for three years, we're currently 12% over this year, so we're in a pretty strong position, and if you look at the Internet issues, I mean it was the Green Party - I put up the proposal for a second internet cable, and to be the cornerstone investor the government to take a cornerstone investment in that.  If you look at holding the GCSB to account, I mean I personally have led that.  And if you look at digital freedom and digital bill of rights I mean we've led on that issue as well.”

But he said the Greens are opposed to ‘coat-tailing’ into Parliament and want the law changed.

“We've always opposed the coat tailing rule.  The reason we haven't got rid of the coat-tailing rule is that National blocked it, and so we've always said to the National Party you should get rid of this rule. National wanted to keep it because of Craig and all the rest of it.  And so we've always said it's a bad rule,” he said.

Watch the full interview here.

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Comments and questions

I read this article and asked if Russel Norman (or the Greens) have determined NZ cannot cope with more cows. No indication in the article. Maybe they have.Maybe they have not and are repeating phrases "water quality", "greenhouse emissions" to get attention. Are their problems with water quality? Yes. Are there farmers not taking good care to prevent fertilizer and cow poo getting into waterways? From several news reports it seems yes. A Green solution is to reduce the cow count. There are better solutions I think, using smarter practices and involving the farming community participation.

From this and other Green statements it seems the Greens are promoting serious topics into insurmountable obstacles. We can do better.

Ask this clown how you are supposed to value add in NZ when bureaucratic burdens make every activity more costly than in the destination countries?

He will simply be value subtracting. Clueless Greens waffling to the gullible.

Meanwhile in the slow moving ticket clipping New Zealand that most readers of this publication support the environment is progressively screwed... yeah that makes great long term sense.

Ah Alan - never really got to grips with the concept of the 'Tragedy of the Commons', did you? []

Totally irrelevant to the value add issue. Got any other red herrings?

And consider the tragedy of the commons next time you want to nationalize something and destroy private property rights. That won't be long I'm guessing.

Personally, we will only have too many cows when there is no place for them to graze. As long as farmers are able to provide land and not contaminate any waterways I don't see a problem. If there was more money to be made out of 'value added' products the market would provide it.

As a potential peoples representative, is removing controls that distort the marketplace. The best thing Norman could do is to promote getting government out of business by selling off state assets, removing subsidies, and removing restrictive policies that alter the when, how and where people invest capital. Let the farm owners, business owners and the free market decide.

As an example, the NZ dairy industry has and continues to have subsidies through grants for R & D through Dairy NZ, as well as other incentives. Note that Russell Norman is not promoting removing the milk grant subsidy. He is not promoting that we should learn from this, and take on board how subsidies and controls distort the marketplace. He is not suggesting letting the free market decide for itself. No, he is just promoting more and more state intervention.

You can tell the type of politician by the policies they promote and the degree of intervention they espouse.
Russell Norman is just another state interventionist with bitterness toward private enterprise.

I think the environment cant handle more farms that have the level of nitrogen run off they do today... not no more farms altogether

Can someone remind me of:

- the change in actual carbon footprint of the NZ dairy sector pasture to destination port over the last ten years and
- the change in production in milk product over that same period;
- the change to GDP.

Also can someone remind me:
- how we add value to logs without increasing the carbon footprint in NZ;
- how we get rewarded for adding value to a product when the customer wants plain pack;
- how effective the greens were at supporting value add when the botulism false alarm occurred - because adding value and branding go hand in hand;

And if our farmers go broke and walk off the land what does this splendid environment look like?

I would rather be clipping the ticket in a nation where the environmental stewardship is steadily improving than holding a begging bowl in a gorse and possum covered nation.

"Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet." [Carl Sagan]

Just remind Norman et al that, "When the grass stops growing on our farms, it will start growing up through the streets of our cities and towns."

This Greens proposal sounds like a real sure way to destroy the countries economy; but then that is the aim of communism, destroy the capitalist system.
Can someone tell me where that successful economic model, the Soviets Socialist republic is now; seems to have fallen of the economic world map.

Sorry folks, but it is the demand for dairy products that has precipitated the huge increase in milk production. So that means it is the consumer of dairy products that are the root cause of "dairy pollution", so enjoy your glass of milk, pottle of yoghurt Mr Norman you polluter you!!

Wonder If Russell has ever been on a farm and seen the work being done to protect waterways. The answer is in science and not by banning everything that moves or farts

At one time (30 - 40 years from memory) the NZ dairy industry had the same value as Nestle. today Nestle is worth $200+ billion, fonterra around $10 billion.

Yet we hold Fonterra out to be a successful company / industry.

China was a massive opportunity, in the pat 5 years or so their track record was to lose $200m on San Lu, to watch other companies invest in farming in China, creating several billion $$$s of value while they mucked around with one or two farms.

They watched small NZ companies enter the market with infant formula, fresh liquid milk etc, while they sell milk powder.

I agree with the other comments on here Value Added is not achieveable, not because of a lack of capital or opportunity, but becuase a lack of vision and commitment by Fonterra.

Nz is not suppose to be a giant boob to feed china south East Asia and South America.

We're not suppose to mono culture our land, just like Monsanto.

We need bio diversity, that's what Normans saying.

You can't have all one thing. Look at all the health problems with corn in the states when they subsidised and grew that into such a huge percentage of the food chain, in the name of profit.

I only hope this acts as a catalyst for EVERY farmer in Nz to get out and vote this time, together with their farmhands etc. and every other member of the rural community and supply chain

If the Greens get into power, buy shares in Air NZ as they will be full of departing Kiwi's.

Too true and it wont take much - Despite what the NZ media reports, things are just dandy across the ditch. High wages, plenty of jobs and a low cost of living. Not so cold either.

lets just remeber that as quoted by MPI... "The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (published Dec 2010) estimates the industry, including downstream activities such as marketing, wholesaling and transport, contributes around 2.8% to New Zealand's GDP and 10.4 billion of export earnings"

ONLY 2.8%

Russell Norman is so far removed from being physically and mentally capable of operating a successful dairy farm how would he even be qualified to comment?

I can't wait to try imported milk! Sarcasm*

As it is our beef farm is just breaking even. Rates are the biggest killer on the farming business model. If we didn't have Monday - Friday jobs on top of running the farm we'd have to sell. The things we do for you folk just so you can say, "mighty angus combo please".

A totally altruistic endeavour huh? Not motivated at all by the tax free capital gain?