“Today’s Groundswell protest shows how stuck in the mud some farmers are when it comes to moving with the times. That after decades of scientific evidence and changes easily felt here on farms d ‘Aotearoa, some people still call climate change a hoax or not man-made says a lot about their detachment from the rest of the world,’ says Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki.
“This country’s rural and agricultural sector has been hit hard by floods, intense storms and droughts this year alone, costing millions of dollars in damage and a great deal of stress and grief for those who have lost homes, sheds, stockpiles and fences.The situation is only getting worse and farmers can either adapt and quickly reduce their emissions or they and everyone else will suffer more.
“We know that at least 50% of our emissions come directly from agriculture, not even counting the international emissions of an industry that exports 80 to 95% of its products. There is a direct correlation with the increase in emissions and the theft of colonial land and the increase in the use of fossil fuels and the industrial period of machinery, agricultural chemicals and massive deforestation. Climate change is undoubtedly man-made. We can stick our heads in the mud and complain that we don’t want to change anything and suffer more, or we can shift to a quick transition now.
“The intensification and industrialization of the dairy industry – fueled by the import of animal feed from abroad and the use of synthetic fertilizers like urea – in Taranaki and elsewhere have increased our emissions while by negatively impacting the local environment.Streams and streams are in trouble, there is loss of biodiversity and rural communities are literally disappearing with the closure of schools, businesses and community halls due to a population decline.While the negative impacts on our atmosphere can be measured, the social impacts are often overlooked,” 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 must now do the same for the dairy industry. Rather than exporting 95% of dairy products as a cheap commodity to sell on the international stock market, we need to work together to localize and diversify our food production. When a dairy farmer on 200ha struggles to pay his bills, while market gardeners can grow vegetables on half an acre creating three full-time jobs while feeding the local community, it’s clear the agricultural sector has been pushed and trapped in a system created by banks, agricultural advisers and industry lobby groups that are failing our planet, rural communities and our local environment.
“We need an immediate halt to the import of palm feed made from rainforest destruction in Borneo. We must ban the import of phosphate from war-torn Western Sahara. We need to stop using synthetic fertilizers made from fossil fuels or hydrogen. Most importantly, we need to work together in rural communities to shift from exports to regenerative agriculture for local markets by diversifying our production, removing farmland for indigenous reforestation, and rebuilding once thriving communities,” concludes Signer.