Wednesday, 06 June 2012 10:10

Forum challenges water myths

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A farmer-led Canterbury Water Forum will tomorrow challenge environmental preconceptions about farming typified by the front page of today's Dominion Post.

"This farmer-led Water Forum will turn things on their head and takes place at the Ashburton Trust Events Centre," says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers water spokesperson.

"What we're doing with this forum is to put the jigsaw pieces together including real world solutions.

"This forum is not just for farmers but for all advisors including our service providers and financiers. We all need to understand the opportunities and costs, emerging fresh water policies hold

"Nothing highlights that more than water quality and the way it is being interpreted by our regional authorities let alone the media.

"The first session includes key representatives from each main political party. This includes the Nick Smith, former Minister for the Environment and Local Government, because much of the current policy direction has been set by Smith.

"Next we'll look at setting and managing nutrient limits using Environment Canterbury's (ECan) proposed Land and Water Plan. We want people to come away knowing some of the implications for the future of farming in greater Canterbury.

"More specifically what farmers can do inside the farm gate. We also hope the media and politicians will join us at the dairy farm of Ben and Shannon Johnson, to see what actually takes place on-farm.

"Their farm won ECan's Water Efficiency Award and the LIC Dairy Farm Award at the 2012 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. They've got a ton of good things to share.

"This is a counterpoint to the front page of Dominion Post effectively tagging all farmers as polluters. The 198 companies or individuals involved over four years are a fraction of the 11,735 dairy herds in New Zealand.

"We have to get the pendulum in balance and this forum is our way to show leadership in terms of policy and practice," Mackenzie saysx.

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