While New Zealand is well-known for the excellence of its dairy products, environmental advocates are calling upon its government to cut dairy production by half and prevent the industry’s further expansion.
International eco-advocacy Greenpeace recently advised the country’s officials that the dairy farming industry was its largest producer of greenhouse emissions. The findings were published in the most recent edition of Greenpeace’s State of Environment report.
In a statement, Greenpeace representatives advised the government to reduce its total dairy herd by around half of the 6.3 million total cows counted in 2019. In doing so, New Zealand could significantly reduce the industry’s impact on several key aspects, including its supply of fresh water, human and environmental health, and biodiversity.
Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel urged New Zealand to take swifter and more decisive action regarding the dairy industry. He also called out dairy farmers for false claims of being more eco-friendly in their practices.
Other measures proposed by Greenpeace include the complete phase-out of synthetic nitrogen use in agriculture, the provision of support for farmers making the shift to more plant-based products, and lower impact farming for improved environmental and human health.
How dairy farming impacts the environment
The large amounts of bovine urine generated by the industry and the widespread use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers have caused a great deal of nitrate contamination in the nation’s potable water supply.
This has, in turn, led to numerous health issues, including blue-baby syndrome as well as an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Released every three years, Greenpeace’s State of the Environment report casts a spotlight on how the improper use of land, industrial and agriculture pollution, as well as climate change are affecting the world we live in, with statistics presented by country.
In New Zealand’s case, this most recent report shows how badly the negative impact of poor environmental health affects its people and their way of life.