Jeanette on Factory Farms

December 23rd, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jeanette responds to Federated Farmers:

thinks Green co-leader Dr Russel Norman and I have different opinions on herd homes and factory farms.

However, Russel and I both have visited a herd home and have the same opinion on their benefits. We both oppose the proposals in the Mackenzie Country.

Herd homes are open, light and airy and the cows are free to move around. They are not used 24/7. Even in filthy weather the cows are outside for at least the four hours it takes them to eat their daily ration of fresh grass.

Then they are off the paddock, protecting the soil from pugging in wet weather and sheltering in the herd home where they have a ration of hay or silage to eat at will. When the weather is fine and the soil reasonably dry, the cows are outside all the time. Using a herd home as part of a pastoral farm results in much less nitrous oxide emissions from the wet soil. …

The factory farms being applied for in the Mackenzie Basin are the opposite. The cows will be indoors 24 hours a day for eight months, perhaps in cubicles most of the time. All feed will be brought to them, so it will require additional energy to produce and transport.

The Mackenzie Basin is a place where for much of the year no feed can be grown locally and the weather is inhospitable for cows.

On Twitter, Federated Farmers argues that it is the “principal” (I think they mean principle) that matters, not the scale. They’re wrong: it’s both.

I am amused that Jeanette responds to a tweet on Twitter with a column in the NZ Herald!

Environmentally, scale can be everything. 180 cows might have a manageable impact on water quality, but 18,000 cows is a different ball-game. It is precisely the scale of dairying in New Zealand – the sheer numbers of cows, the intensity of stocking rates, and the resulting effluent and emissions – that is turning what used to be seen as a “clean green” wholesome industry into a major polluter.

It’s also the principle. Farming outdoor cows (that occasionally go indoors) is fundamentally different to a factory of indoor cows (that occasionally go outdoors). Animal welfare is an issue of principle, not scale – farm animals should live meaningful lives on farms, not in factories.

We agree with Fonterra and Forest & Bird that intensive dairying is completely unsuitable in the fragile Mackenzie Country. We also agree with the Prime Minister that factory farming threatens to undermine our competitive advantage from our grass-fed, World SPCA-approved, clean and green dairy farming. We agree with the Otago tourism and residents’ organisations that have called factory farming in the Mackenzie ‘insanity’. It’s a recipe for disaster. The principle is all wrong and the scale makes it worse still.

The debate continues!

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33 Responses to “Jeanette on Factory Farms”

  1. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Is Nitrogen going to be the next CO2? Vilified as the great nasty. When I went to School, the 2 largest components of the atmosphere were Nitrogen and Oxygen. Now we have this nasty Nitrous Oxide stuff getting Jenetix all exercised. What gives? (isn’t Nitrous Oxide just plain NO?)

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  2. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    HA bloody ha, Nitrous oxide is laughing gas, I think she is pulling the piss.

    Lets ban laughing eh what!!

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  3. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    Thats why cows are so content in the paddock because they pug up the ground and release happy gas, who knew they are high all the time?????

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  4. Angus (536 comments) says:

    NO is Nitric Oxide. Nitrous Oxide is N2O

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  5. Elijah Lineberry (306 comments) says:

    I wonder what the Greens are getting their knickers in a twist about most;

    1. Is it that someone may make a profit (yes!)
    2. Is it their desire to return us to the 18th century ASAP? (yes!)
    3. Is it the exploitation of the working man by greedy capitalists who expect employees to work in the middle of nowhere 1000 miles away from the nearest chardonnay bottle and latte serving cafe? (yes, always!)

    Considering the Greens want the human population living under marxist slavery in quite similar conditions to these cows (living in concrete boxes, rationed food and drink, told what time to awaken, what time to spend on leisure activities, told what to eat and when and where) dictated to by Comrade Russel who is the only person capable of making these decisions it is a bit odd they are expressing opposition when someone wants to do the same thing to livestock.

    http://www.nightcitytrader.blogspot.com

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  6. toad (3,654 comments) says:

    DPF:

    I am amused that Jeanette responds to a tweet on Twitter with a column in the NZ Herald!

    She initially responded with a blog.

    She must have then sent a slightly modified version of the blog around the MSM as an op ed and the Herald and ODT both picked it up and ran it.

    david:

    isn’t Nitrous Oxide just plain NO?

    It’s N2O actually, and it has over a 100 year period about 300 times the global warming potential of CO2. NO is nitric oxide, which N2O slowly oxidises to in the atmosphere. NO is not a greenhouse gas, nor is NO2 (nitrogen dioxide). But if N2O is emitted into the atmosphere faster than it oxidises, the warming effect occurs. That’s what is happening at the moment.

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  7. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    Correct Angus..
    I know know that if I am feeling a bit glum and have a case of the blues, I just need to wander around the cow paddock and all will be well with the world.

    Seriously though, N20 emissions have been the subject of some pretty serious scientific study, and there is apparently a supposed link to the so called ozone layer depletion.

    But like all studies is open to further debate.

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  8. andrei (2,430 comments) says:

    NO is Nitric Oxide. Nitrous Oxide is N2O

    And it is a very serious green house gas too – it makes up 0.000000002% of the atmosphere already and putting dairy cattle in the Mackenzie will might raise that to 0.00000000200000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%.

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  9. Dobbie (36 comments) says:

    DPF, have you got the timeline right? See http://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/opinion/86789/factory-farming-a-recipe-disaster. I thought that The Don was responding to Jeanette, rather than the other way round? Also, have a re-read of The Don’s op-ed. He is absolutely twisting Jeanette’s views. He’s presenting spin, while it seems to me that the Greens are stating their views quite objectively. Therefore aren’t the Greens looking to foster debate, while the Feds seek to mislead?

    In my opinion, and assuming that a majority of farmers are against cubicle farming too (which anecdotally they are), then the Feds are stating to position themselves fairly and squarely as anti-environment, rather than just pro-farmer.

    Further, assuming that dairy farming is having the environmental impact that people say it is then The Don can probably be described as an ‘environmental vandal’!

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  10. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    She’d have more enviornmental cred if she didn’t go around torching scrub during total fire bans.

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  11. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    Sheep grazing, one of the major land-uses in New Zealand occupies 7.1 million hectares and provides forage for about 40 million sheep. Spatially and temporally explicit data on nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4) fluxes from soils under this land use are needed at farm-scale to better estimate regional and national greenhouse gas inventories. In this study, we measured N2O and CH4 fluxes at the soil surface of a sheep-grazed pasture over a 20-month period, to assess the influence of soil moisture, temperature and seasonal variations in the emissions of N2O and CH4, and to calculate an N2O emission factor. The farm-scale N2O emissions were also simulated using a process-based NZ-DNDC model, and the model was tested against measurements of CH4. Measured annual N2O emissions from this pasture site are estimated to be 3.7 ± 2.2 kg N2O-N ha−1 year−1. The mean of daily N2O emission measurements (7.4 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1) for this sheep-grazed pasture was higher than the mean of daily emission measurements from ungrazed control site (3.4 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1) but significantly lower than reported value of 32.0 g N2O-N ha−1 day−1for pastures grazed by dairy cows on the same soil type at an adjacent farm. The emission factor (EF), i.e. amount of N2O-N emitted expressed as a percentage of excretal and fertiliser N input for this site, is 0.99, which is essentially the same as the New Zealand specific N2O emission factor of 1.0 for excretal N. The sheep-grazed pasture acted as a CH4 source and sink but was an overall annual CH4 sink (0.64 ± 0.19 kg CH4-C ha−1). Methane consumption was highest in the summer and lowest during the wetter, colder winter months. Thus mitigation strategies for reducing anaerobic N2O emissions will also favour greater CH4 oxidation at the soil surface. NZ-DNDC model simulated effectively general pulses and trends in both N2O and CH4 fluxes.

    Says it all really.

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  12. andrei (2,430 comments) says:

    You know what I don’t get about all of this is – if the agricultural processes which produce CH4 and N2O are such a problem then why do the greenies make such a fuss when people drain wetlands where the same biological process which produce these gases on farms are in play.

    How is N2O or CH4 emitted from pastures any a worse GHG than exactly the same molecules emitted from swamps?

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  13. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    Its a lot of words lofty but what its says isn’t actually all. Most of us skip cut and pastes for a start.

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  14. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    “I am amused that Jeanette responds to a tweet on Twitter with a column in the NZ Herald!”

    Former political party leader takes issues seriously. Astonishing!

    PS: interesting to note that it is now “supposed ozone depletion” – the race to the dark ages continues. Awesome.

    [DPF: My point is that respond to columns with columns and respond to tweets with tweets]

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  15. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    Just feeling a bit frivolous today Murray. Not serious about this, I actually think it is a crock.

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  16. Murray (8,835 comments) says:

    I assumed as much.

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  17. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Can the Greens actually come up with a solution that doesnt involve ruining the livelyhoods of the nations farmers, with flow on effects to – oh I dont know – every fucken citizen in the country.

    What do they really want? Thousands of Kiwis starving from famine? Do they want to turn New Zealand into a modern day Ethiopia?

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  18. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    Jeanette Fitsimmons is a Green. Nine million cows farting in New Zealand, whether in fields or in cow stalls, is bad. However, 280 million shitting on the streets of India is cultural quiantness.

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  19. Manolo (12,624 comments) says:

    What do the Greens really want?

    They would like to send New Zealand back to the pre-industrial age, to the oxen and cart, to an old-fashioned agrarian dictatorship where the Luddites will dictate what to do.

    They hate machinery, factories, industrial facilities; and overall despise modernity. The Greens would have us on subsistence level, without exploiting any natural resources.

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  20. RRM (8,988 comments) says:

    Manolo (1019) Says: “What do the Greens really want? They would like to send New Zealand back to the pre-industrial age, to the oxen and cart, to an old-fashioned agrarian dictatorship where the Luddites will dictate what to do. They hate machinery, factories, industrial facilities; and overall despise modernity. The Greens would have us on subsistence level, without exploiting any natural resources.”

    Mr Garrett!! Hello!

    You’ll be needing a strawman to drive that ox-cart for you….

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  21. david (2,482 comments) says:

    Toad, proof of warming effect please. I know you must get as sick of not answering that question as the rest of us do of asking it.

    BTW, have you not caught up with the latest research which shows with a higher degree of probability than Mr Mann has so far experienced, that it was CFCs and solar particles that have causede the (very small) warming effect over the last 50 years and that this is now reversing.

    So is it OK to make Polar Bear skin cold weather gear to protect against the cooling effects? or do we have to process another shitload of oil to make polypro thermals? or do we just get on and make wool? Which of these options is preferable to the Greens? I really need to know for my next big business venture into capturing an economic benefit from climate change by going countercyclical.

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  22. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,668 comments) says:

    Well, in this case, I think Genetix is right. If you REALLY want to fuck up our export markets, just go ahead and put 18,000 cows in barns for eighteen months on end. But then again, maybe the Bro from Kaitaia will buy the barns for the Ayrabs, eh boy?

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  23. andrei (2,430 comments) says:

    If you REALLY want to fuck up our export markets, just go ahead and put 18,000 cows in barns for eighteen months on end.

    That’s a bogey man – I don’t think the average punter in the supermarket even associates the cheddar they are thinking about purchasing with cows, let alone wondering about how the cows are raised nor the intricacies of cheese production.

    No it is price, value for money and quality that is foremost in their thoughts.

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  24. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    I don’t think the average punter in the supermarket even associates the cheddar they are thinking about purchasing with cows..

    Until it’s bought to their attention by a competitor via a negative/comparative advertising campaign.

    This happened with NZ butter in the UK a few years ago. It was targeted as having a very large carbon footprint (due to the shipping). As it turned out this was an own-goal for the people who said this (can’t remember who exactly) because it was subsequently shown that NZ butter reaches the UK supermarket shelf with a substantially smaller footprint that UK-made butter.

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  25. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    It’s not likely to come up as a negative advertising campaign, any competitor in the same price bracket is going to have similar farming practices. Some holier-than-thou boutique “organic” hippy brand might be able to claim a squeaky clean record in their entire production chain, but their product will cost twice as much.

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  26. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Don’t count on it. Marketing isn’t fair and balanced. There are many ways to quietly run down the competition. E.g. a UK dairy-farming organisation could sponsor a journalist on a trip to NZ to see “The truth about NZ’s clean and green dairy industry”.

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  27. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,668 comments) says:

    Andrei, get with it, Man. It’s not the punters who count. It’s the polies who slap on the tariffs using our new found practices as an excuse. God knows they need little enough encouragement. BTW, there was a typo. Eighteen should have read ‘eight.’

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  28. kowtow (6,701 comments) says:

    Brian Smaller @
    280 million shitting in the streets cultural quaintness…….untouchables(as they used to be called) with rattan baskets on their backs clearing shit from the base of low rise apartment blocks with a hand trowel and carrying it to a dump is cultural quaintness while having one of the biggest navies in the world and a nuclear weapons program is post colonial,anti imperialist non aligned indepedence.

    Manolo@155pm
    Just remember that ox pulling the cart has been put under the yoke to be exploited by right wing ,white ,capitalist,oppressive males and come the revolution will be set free to roam on green pastures .

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  29. lofty (1,295 comments) says:

    Woohoo.. kowtow is preaching REVOLUTION, bring it on wanker… it will be you kowtowing to us wealthy white males.

    lets have ya!!!

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  30. bill hicks (100 comments) says:

    If jeanette loves animals like camels,ant eaters,cows,praying mantis,cats etc at her age instead of worring about them,shouldn’t she be at home playing with her pussy????????

    [DPF: 30 demerits]

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  31. jackp (668 comments) says:

    Good to know Janette wants more freedom for cows than people… she is a watermelon.

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  32. kowtow (6,701 comments) says:

    Lofty doesn’t get irony,come the revolution everyone can have some.

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  33. kiki (425 comments) says:

    Water pollution is one of the major issues with the dairy plan. even at low levels ~2 mg/l nitrate nitrogen is potentially toxic to fish and other animals. Also algae blooms are becoming quite common in low land rivers. All those rivers lead to the sea and it is unknown what extra nutrients could cause in this environment. We could get large toxic algal blooms off our coasts which effect the proposed marine farms. Nothing is simple.

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