19 Nov 2013

Water report not expected to be kind to farming

6:55 pm on 19 November 2013

A report into the impact of agriculture on fresh water in New Zealand is due out later this week and Federated Farmers says it isn't kind to farming.

President Bruce Wills said the report by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment - Water Quality in New Zealand: Land use and nutrient pollution, to be released on Thursday, was going to put the spotlight on farmers and the impact they were having on the environment.

Mr Wills was briefed on the report on Monday and said some of its findings "aren't kind to agriculture and the impacts we're having".

"That's going to create, I think, a lot of debate around this whole conundrum which really, I guess, sums up my job - conundrums around the fact that we have a business growth agenda from this Government, where we have an aspiration to double the value of our agricultural outputs by 2025," he said.

"But, of course, the challenge for all of us is how do we do that with a smaller environmental footprint, particularly with the impact on water, particularly from more specifically dairy."

Slowing or stopping farming was not the answer, Mr Wills said. Instead, farmers had to work out how to grow their businesses in sympathy with the environment.

The federation's national council meeting started in Wellington on Tuesday.