Council sensitive to issues facing farmers

Mycoplasma Bovis is front and centre for many farmers as well as us at Environment Canterbury. We’re aware of the huge impact the disease has on individuals and families if discovered on a farm.

The government and farming sector’s attempt to eradicate MB is to be applauded – it’s the first time a country has tried to eliminate the disease. While in the short-term this is putting additional stress on affected farming families, the benefits of getting rid of the disease are huge.

We’re doing everything we can to support the push to eradicate the disease. This includes making sure our staff don’t spread the disease. Every vehicle going onto a farm must carry a hygiene kit and staff are required to clean vehicles, equipment and footwear when they depart.

Drought-proofing Central Plains Water scheme

As we head into another dry Canterbury summer it got me thinking about the Central Plains Water scheme which switched on stage two recently. This is great for the farmers and local community who can benefit from more reliable water, but as a councillor I’m also very aware of the controversy the scheme has generated.

I think it’s worth reminding ourselves of the wider benefits of the scheme – which were well covered a few years ago in the community discussions to develop planning rules for the Selwyn Waihora catchment.

In addition to drought-proofing, the CPW scheme provides the resilience that only reliable water can bring, options for crop and land-use diversity, as well as the long-term ecological benefits from reduced groundwater, takes (by boosting flow in spring-fed streams).

It’s not about irrigation for irrigation’s sake – it’s about looking ahead and having some options, such as facilitating a variety of land uses, as we adapt to the climate change we are already beginning to see.

Reducing our carbon footprint

Also in the climate change space is the ongoing work to reduce our carbon footprint as a country. According to MPI, farming has reduced greenhouse gas emissions (per unit of production) because of better feed, nutrition, animal health and genetics, as well as improved pasture management. While farming greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 15% over the past decade, this would have been closer to 40% without the efficiency gains.

At Environment Canterbury we are also looking closely at our own carbon footprint, something on which we need to lead by example. I think it’s the sort of thing that’s better to do voluntarily, at your own pace, rather than waiting for someone to tell you what to do.

I’m pleased to see Environment Canterbury’s carbon footprint is heading the right way. Last year we removed a net 5755 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – largely because of carbon sequestration from the post-1989 forest we own on behalf of the community.

We are also looking at ways to reduce emissions by more efficient vehicle use, more electric vehicles (including the YooGo share fleet), the installation of photovoltaic panels on our Tuam Street building, staff training, as well as better data measurement and record keeping.

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