22 Aug 2017

Farmers' groups make swimmable water vow

2:49 pm on 22 August 2017

Seven farming leaders have pledged to make New Zealand's rivers swimmable for the next generations, saying it is the right thing to do for all New Zealanders.

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Photo: 123rf.com

The pledge was made by the informal Farming Leaders Group which includes Fonterra chair John Wilson, Dairy NZ chair Michael Spaans, Beef + Lamb NZ chair James Parsons, Meat Industry Association chair John Loughlin and Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

Group spokesperson Bruce Wills said farmers have made progress in river clean-up over the past 10 years, but he said there was more to be done - and it must be done faster and collaboratively.

"Today, we're standing up and saying that we haven't always got this right. More work is required and we will play our part.

"It is now time for us to lead and partner with all stakeholders to improve New Zealand's precious natural environment," he said.

Mr Wills said the environmental risks were why the farming leaders had all come together for the first time to make a formal pledge.

"We are committed to New Zealand's rivers being swimmable for our children and grandchildren," the pledge said.

Mr Wills said they have set this ambitious goal because it was the right thing to do - for all New Zealanders.

"We haven't put a timeline on our commitment. Each community will decide that for themselves. This goal will be difficult to meet and we don't have all the answers today on how it's going to be achieved," he said.

Labour water spokesperson David Parker said he welcomed the Farming Leaders Group adoption of Labour's goal to return the country's rivers to being truly swimmable.

"We look forward to sitting down with them in the first 100 days of the new government to turn this goal into reality," he said.

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